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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.
Two weeks ago, a recall was launched for approximately 20,000 Nissan Altima sedans for a front suspension bolt that may not have been properly tightened during production of the vehicle. Today, another recall was launched regarding an incorrectly assembled air bag control unit in both the 2012 Altima and the 2012 NV work van. The affected vehicles were built during a two week period this year and the recall involves 54 units.
The faulty airbag control unit installations were installed in the Altima between June 15 and 21, 2011, and June 23-28 for the NV. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the unit “will not operate as designed and this issue may cause the air bags not to inflate in a crash … This could increase the risk of injury.”
According to NHTSA, the Japanese automaker will replace the air bag control units free of charge starting on or around August 22.
The Barrett-Jackson auctions are famous for selling rare exotic cars for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Usually the cars that command the highest prices are limited production Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s and Aston Martin’s.
At the Orange County auction, a 1970 Dodge Hemi Challenger sold for $215,600, and a 1964 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III James Young sedan sold for $159,500. However the car of the weekend was a 1963 Volkswagen Samba Microbus that sold for a whopping $217,800.
This particular model was the top-of-the-line first generation bus made for Alpine touring. It has been restored to “much-better-than-new condition”, which helps to explain why it sold for such an obscene amount of money and is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. The exterior is painted Mouse Grey with touches of red trim. The interior features a German mohair headliner, original latches, restored ashtrays and luggage rails, as well as the original radio.
Ford is asking dealers to curtail orders of three shades of red paint, and one hue called “Tuxedo Black” due to difficulties sourcing metallic elements needed for the paint. The element, which is produced by a Japanese supplier, is unable to be produced to due damage resulting from the natural disasters that occurred in the country.
So far, full-size pickups and SUVs are unable to be ordered in Tuxedo Black, while vehicles like the Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS will have their supplies of the color restricted. The shades of red will be scaled back on cars like the F-Series Super Duty and Ranger pickups, Focus, Econoline and Lincoln Navigator.
Ford says it is looking to find a replacement for the substance, called Xirallic, which is used to give the paint a metallic finish.
[Source: CNN Money]
In Germany, the Volkswagen Microbus was affectionately known as the “Bulli”, proving that terms of endearment and the German language aren’t always compatible. While Volkswagen had a false start with their Microbus concept in 2001, the same idea is back 10 years later, and it manages to be even more contemporary while still providing Baby Boomers with a hefty shot of nostalgia.
With an 85 kilowatt motor capable of returning 300 kilometers per charge, the Bulli may not be suitable for following Phish across the U.S.A, but its zero emissions drivetrain will definitely resonate with eco-conscious citizens who smell like bong water. VW is said to be investigating more conventional engines as well.
The usual super-modern infotainment systems, including iPad integration, an audio system designed by guitar maker Fender. One throwback is the front bench seat, a feature not seen since the days when kids could afford to buy a new Volkswagen, one that came with an air-cooled engine at that.
Gallery: Volkswagen Bulli
Ford‘s last minivan, the Freestar, left the market in tatters roughly 6 years ago, lagging badly behind the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. For 2011, Ford is back, with a vehicle that couldn’t be more different.
The Ford C-Max ditches the Freestar’s antiquated architecture and inefficient V6 for a pair of 4-cylinders, including a 1.6L Ecoboost version. A dual clutch transmission also makes an appearance, and the overall footprint is much smaller, closer to a Mazda5 than any other van on the market.
Although it’s sold in Europe as the Grand C-Max, this car is likely the smallest vehicle North Americans could stomach. A “5+2″ seating arrangement, similar to the first generation Honda Odyssey, allows for maximum flexibility, while features like MyFordTouch and Park Assist will help vault the C-Max ahead of the Mazda5 in terms of gadgets. Ford quotes a price starting “in the mid-20′s” suggesting a more premium branding strategy rather than the previous method of selling everything from a dirt cheap sub-20k model to a loaded-to-the-gills luxury van.
Also of note is the hands free liftgate, which can be activated by sweeping one’s foot underneath the bumper. A feature like this is sure to appeal to the target demographic far beyond any turbocharged engine or sporty suspension.
Gallery: Ford C-Max
Although Toyota has been hyping their new Prius MPV for months, Ford‘s announcement of not one, but two hybrid minivans is sure to take the wind out of Toyota’s sails (no pun intended).
The C-Max Hybrid and Energi (Ford’s name for the plug-in variant) will be 5-seaters only, and use a lithium-ion battery pack, considered to be the next generation of hybrid battery technology. The car will also be built at Ford’s Wayne, Michigan plant, the first plant that will build electric and gasoline vehicles side by side.
The C-Max Energi will offer a number of interesting advantages; the ability to go 500 miles on a single tank of gas (the longest range for any plug-in), the chance to use HOV lanes with only a single occupant (in states such as California, where this is allowed) and fuel economy that bests the Fusion Hybrids 41/36 mpg rating. Ford also claims that the Energi will exceed the Fusion’s EV-only speed of 47 mph.
Visually, the Hybrid and Energi are distinguished by subtle fender badges, with the Energi’s charging port glowing upon connecting with a charging paddle. The Energi will be on sale in 2012, the same time as the Prius minivan. An interesting battle looks to be shaping up, with Ford’s newly resurgent lineup taking on the name in hybrids.
Gallery: Ford C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi
Few people pay attention to minivans, but an interesting sales war is heating up, with what could be Chrysler’s first major sales victory in their post-bailout era.
Chrysler‘s Town & Country minivan, which just underwent a pretty substantial refresh, is the leading minivan according to sales data, moving 102,495 units through November. The perennial leader, the Honda Odyssey, trailed by about 4500 units, amid a surging minivan market. Toyota’s Sienna is over 10,000 units behind the Chrysler.
It seems unlikely that the Odyssey will prevail, and 2011 is sure to be an interesting year if the upward sales of minivans continues, especially with a predicted rise in gas prices.
[Source: The Detroit News]
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]
The re-designed Mazda5, the smallest minivan available for sale in North America, will go on sale with a base price of $19,990 starting in January of 2011.
The Mazda5 will come in three trim levels, with the base trim being Sport, Touring being the mid-level and Grand Touring acting as a top of the line car. All models get Dynamic Stability Control , traction control, anti-lock brakes , tire-pressure monitoring, and a multitude of airbags. Luxury features like Bluetooth start to appear on the Touring model, but the good news for the certifiably nutty is that a 5-speed manual is available on this sliding-door equipped van! It doesn’t get much better than that, as far as we’re concerned.
Even though it’s spawned various stillborn re-incarnations, the VW Microbus may be returning thanks to executives within Volkswagen pushing for a concept that evokes the iconic utility vehicle.
Klaus Bischoff, head of design for Volkswagen, stated that the 2001 Microbus concept did not make it to production due to cost factors, but noted there was serious public support for the project.
Despite the goodwill expressed towards the project, Volkswagen remains unsure of what direction they will take with the Microbus. Bischoff told Auto Express that “the key question is ‘what sort of car should we build?’ It could be a traditional MPV, with a conventional interior, or we could be much bolder, designing a more flexible, versatile machine – perhaps one that is closer in spirit to the original model. It is not yet decided.”
A concept likely won’t be seen before 2012, but reports say that VW’s American and European design teams are working together to create something mutually acceptable for both markets.
[Source: Auto Express]
The Ford Transit Connect XLT has taken off with the commercial vehicle set, and even non-car-loving folks have come to know them for their distinctive shape, calling them “bread vans” or “ice cream trucks”.
Ford seems to have finally listened to the internet and produced an honest civilian version of the Transit Connect, and it looks pretty damn cool. Dubbed the Transit Connect XLT Premium Wagon, the Turkish-built van can seat five, and comes with civilizing features like rear windows, a blind-spot avoidance system, a backup camera, and some pretty nice alloy wheels. The high roof and massive cargo compartment will no doubt endear it to buyers who need that sort of thing – we wonder if this car will be a new entry into the wheelchair-accessible market due to its generous interior dimensions. More likely than not you’ll be seeing a “stanced” Transit Connect on your favorite car blog sometime soon.
Gallery: Ford Transit Connect XLT Premium Wagon
The 2011 Nissan Quest may not be the official holder of the “Swagger Wagon” title, but it looks pretty damn good. On sale in early 2011, the new Quest is a radical departure from the old model, which was as exciting as vegan meatballs.
All the usual minivan conveniences are present, like flat-folding seats, power sliding doors, 2nd and 3rd row entertainment systems, tire pressure monitoring systems and a removable 2nd row console.
Power comes from Nissan’s ubiquitous 3.5L V6 making 253 horsepower. Four trim levels will be available, but pricing has yet to be announced.
Gallery: 2011 Nissan Quest
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Hit the jump to see the official press release
Kia‘s Sedona minivan, an often ignored but solid bargain in the minivan segment, gets a new grille for 2011, along with an upgraded powertrain.
The Sedona’s new V6 puts out 271 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque with power being put down through a 6 speed manual transmission. This gives the Sedona a 27 horsepower gain over the old motor, but a 5 lb-ft loss…not that it matters.
With all new versions of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country and Nissan Quest about the flood the market, the Sedona has a tough fight ahead. But with a low MSRP, it’s destined to achieve at least some success.
Chevrolet‘s Orlando micro-van has had its first pictures shown ahead of its debut at the Paris Auto Show. Based on the Cruze platform, the Orlando won’t make it to the United States, but is expected to be a strong seller in world markets, as well as Canada, where the compact minivan market has entries from nearly every automaker.
Under the hood is a 1.8L gasoline four-cylinder engine putting out 143 horsepower, along with two 2.0L diesels, making 133 and 165 horsepower. Styling takes on Chevrolet’s “corporate face” out front, while the rest of the car looks conservative and squared off. Inside, the cockpit is said to be inspired by the Corvette with seating for seven passengers.
Autoguide will be on hand in Paris for the Orlando’s debut. Stay tuned for more pictures and info.
Gallery: Chevrolet Orlando
Hit the jump to see the official press release
A pushpin that holds the Transit Connect’s headliner in place could come loose, a seemingly minor error that according to Ford’s statement on a NHTSA website, “…could exceeded head injury criteria requirements set by the standard,”. Ford said the safety recall for the Transit Connect is expected to begin “on or about” July 19.
Chrysler is recalling the aforementioned vehicles due to “defective brake tubes” that could lead to a loss of brake fluid. Anything involving the brake systems should be attended to right away, and owners should service this problem immediately, when Chrysler begins the recall in August.
The Chevrolet Orlando crossover will not be sold in the United States after all. In an interview with Bloomberg, Margaret Brooks, GM’s product marketing director for small cars and crossovers said that “The best thing to do for Chevrolet is to focus on the brands we’ve already brought to market: the Traverse, Equinox, Malibu and, soon to come, the Cruze.”
In addition to Asia and Europe, the Orlando, a seven seater minivan based on the same platform as the Cruze and Volt, will be sold in Canada, where the Mazda5 (a direct competitor to the Orlando) is a popular vehicle. Canadians typically buy smaller vehicles due to higher vehicle costs, and an average gas price of $4 per gallon.
[Source: Automotive News]