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.
From the Regal to the Verano, several of the new models in Buick’s revitalized lineup owe their origins to GM’s European operations where they were first engineered under the automaker’s Opel division. That could happen once again with the new Vauxhall Cascada a possible look at a future Buick convertible.
Airbags can be dangerous in more ways than you might think: one man in Scotland died of bronchial pneumonia two weeks after inhaling fumes from one after it was cut on broken glass in a highway crash.
Opel and Vauxhall have announced the lineup of debuts for the upcoming 2012 Geneva Motor Show, with the highly-anticipated Astra OPC/VXR headlining the booth.
The aggressively designed Astra OPC/VXR will be powered by a turbocharged 2.0L powerplant with 277-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and will also sport High Performance Struts (HiPerStruts), a FlexRide chassis, and lightweight bucket seats in the interior.
Next on Opel’s list will be its new Mokka crossover which is based on the Buick Encore. It will be released with three different engine choices available, a standard gas 1.6L with 113-hp, a turbocharged 1.4L with 138-hp and a 1.7L CDTI diesel with 128-hp. Front-wheel drive will be standard on the new Mokka, but all-wheel drive will be an option. Opel also mentioned in their release that all Mokka models will come with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control (TC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), and Hill Descent Control (HDC) as standard.
The Insignia BiTurbo was also announced as a debut, featuring a 2.0L twin-turbo diesel engine with 192-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Not exactly automotive related, but Opel and Vauxhall will also show off a RAD e electric bike concept. They described it as the “first e bike to be built around automotive construction and production principles.” The RAD e electric bike will show off a 250-watt motor that can give it an electric-assisted range of 37-90 miles.
Opel will also have refreshed variants of their Corsa, Meriva, and Astra at the show including their Corsa Kaleidoscope edition, a Meriva 1.4 LPG Turbo ecoFLEX model and an Astra 1.4 LPG Turbo ecoFLEX model.
GALLERY: Opel / Vauxhall Geneva Lineup Preview
Vauxhall revealed its hot new hatch, looking to take away some of the spotlight from Ford’s Focus and Fiesta ST. The brand new VXR hatchback is the fastest and most powerful production vehicle from Vauxhall yet, boasting 280-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder. Vauxhall is also claiming that their new VXR hatchback will have a top speed of 155-mph.
The new VXR hatchback is based on the popular Astra GTC but sports much more aggressive styling to go with its uber-powerful engine. In addition, Vauxhall ensures us that the VXR will receive unique chassis modifications and a specially developed mechanical limited slip differential compared to its GTC counterpart.
The changes doesn’t stop there, as the VXR will be equipped with beefy Brembo brakes and Vauxhall’s FlexRide system, offering a Sport and VXR mode that will adjust damper, throttle and steering control. On the inside, performance bucket seats, a flat-buttoned steering wheel and VXR badging separates it from the GTC.
GALLERY: Vauxhall Astra VXR Hatchback
[Source: LeftLane News]
New rules to Britain’s MoT inspection program, used by the government to declare whether vehicles are roadworthy or not, could end up costing motorists thousands of dollars for non-essential repairs.
European Union regulations, which Britain is subject to, require that electronic stability control systems must be checked, and any vehicle that doesn’t pass will be declared unfit for British roads. One reader of British magazine Auto Express complained that he recieved a bill of $2,715 to fix the system in his Vauxhall Astra compact car, when the system was fitted as an option. The reader noted that an Astra that didn’t have the system at all would be declared road worthy.
Systems like airbags, catalytic converters and factory-fitted Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems will also be tested, and any defects could result in similarly expensive repair bills. This issue has left us wondering whether the OEMs are setting us up for a fall by making these systems so costly to repair, leaving some owners to abandon their perfectly good vehicles for a new car, rationalizing their purchase as an alternative to throwing money at an old car.
Opel is set to make an impression as this year’s Frankfurt Show which takes place on September 15th to the 25th. Their main focus will be the surprise debut of an experimental car which Opel claims will emphasize the passion for driver-focused vehicles.
In addition, the booth will host the world debuts of the Astra GTC and Zafira Tourer minivan models. They will also show off the Ampera, the first electric vehicle catered to everyday European use, and seven new ecoFLEX models.
We’ve already taken an in-depth look at the Astra GTC model, while the Zafira Tourer is a stylish minivan featuring a completely redesigned Flex7 seating system and will reach UK showrooms in early 2012. The Ampera is basically the European version of the Chevrolet Volt, while the ecoFLEX models will include the following: Agila 1.0 petrol, Meriva 1.3 CDTi, Astra 1.7 CDTi, Insignia 1.4 Turbo petrol, Insignia 2.0 CDTi, and ecoFLEX versions of the Astra GTC and Zafira Tourer.
Mitsubishi is going further, in fact: the money it would have otherwise spent on ads is going to British charity Childline, a counseling service for abused children. The two automotive companies join a host of major corporations that have pulled their support of the tabloid after allegations that investigators and editors tapped into the cell phone of a murdered 13-year old girl.
Renault and Suzuki are two manufacturers next on the list; they have not yet made a formal decision to withdraw their ads, but are currently considering it.
[Source: The Guardian]
Vauxhall’s Astra GTC is poised to take on the European market with its sleek, stylish design and compact body. More importantly, its price point will really give Volkswagen’s Scirocco and Renault’s Megane Coupe some serious competition. Vauxhall announced that their 2012 Astra GTC will be available with four different four-cylinder powerplants, one of them being a diesel. The most powerful will be a 1.6L turbo with 178-hp while their 2.0L diesel will sport 163-hp. Economy seekers will have two choices, a 1.4L, one with 118-hp and another with 138-hp.
The GTC will start at $30,425 (USD) while its top of the line will come in at close to $37,000. All Astra GTCs will come complete with a 100,000-mile warranty. Vauxhall’s focus for the Astra GTC includes their HiPerStrut technology that can be seen on the Insignia VXR. Thorough testing and tuning puts ensures that the Astra GTC benefits from tight handling and control.
Ironically enough, the GTC shares no actual body panels from its Astra Hatch or Sports Tourer counterparts. High-end options will include standard tinted glass, onboard computer, leather-trimmed steering wheel and fog lamps. For the entry-level Sport trim, the GTC will come with 18-inch wheels standard, DAB stereo and USB functionality.
GALLERY: Vauxhall Astra GTC
A “leaked document” (read: dubious rumor) claims that a coupe variant of the Opel Insignia sedan, may wear the famed Calibra badge. The previous Calibra was known for its slippery styling and turbocharged engines, and the Insignia would make a worthy successor.
Opel previewed an Insignia Coupe with their GTC Concept, which was powered by a 2.8L V6 with a twin-turbo setup, and this engine is currently used in the Insignia VXR good for 321 horsepower. A proposed coupe would be fitted with all-wheel drive, and have a shorter wheelbase to give the car sharper reflexes.
While Opel and Vauxhall cars aren’t sold Stateside, the car could make its easy over here as a Buick. The possibilities mulling in our heads, from a new Riviera to a Grand National successor, are definitely enticing, but we’ll wait for the real car to surface before we let our imagination run wild.
[Source: Auto Express]
You may have never heard of Guangzhou, China, but with nearly 12 million people, the industrial metropolis is a major player in the Chinese auto market.
Making its debut at the show is one of China’s most anticipated new cars, the MG3 hatchback and MG6 sedan. Although Chinese cars are a laughing stock in much of the automotive press, the MG6, in pre-production form, has been called “borderline best in class to drive” by Autocar magazine in the UK, and with competition like the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf, this is high praise.
While the MG bears the nameplate of the famous British sports car maker, the MG6 was developed from the ground up in China. The car will be sold in the UK within a year, but no plans for American sales have been announced.
Although the good Lord chose to take the Pontiac G8 from us far too early in its life, other countries can still enjoy GM’s Zeta platform superstar in all it’s Holden Commodore-based goodness.
The United Kingdom is particularly privileged, as it gets this Vauxhall VXR8, seemingly adorned in Rape Yellow, and it comes equipped with a 430 horsepower LS3 V8, capable of hitting 60 mph in just under 5 seconds. The VXR8 also gets the Magnetic Ride Control dampers from the Corvette ZR1, and a chassis tuned by Holden Special Vehicles, two items that were conspicuously missing from the Pontiac G8.
Of course, the VXR also costs an outrageous $78,060, about double the price of the top level G8 GXP. Still cheaper than an AMG or BMW M car, but a LOT of scratch for a General Motors sedan.
[Source: Top Speed]
General Motors will look to expand its lineup of extended range electric cars to three models by the time the current Chevrolet Volt’s production cycle has run its course. At least that is GM’s plan for the European market under the Opel/Vauxhall brands where GM has just launched the sister car to the Volt, the Opel Ampera.
According to a report by AutoCar, the new models will arrive in 2015, with the most important being a successor to the original Volt, which will grow in size.
According to GM Europe president Nick Reilly, the ‘Ampera’ family of cars will also include a Astra-sized hatchback, as well as a five-seater crossover – likely based on the Volt MPV5 concept (above), which debuted earlier this year at the Beijing Motor Ahow.
The cost for producing vehicles like the Volt is predicted to decline significantly says Reilly, commenting that GM believes the electrical components required to build the Volt’s powertrain will drop in price by 50 percent over the next five years. Those cost savings, combined with increased popularity of EVs and continued government incentives will drive of demand of such vehicles in the future, allowing GM to expand its lineup to meet the market.
GALLERY: Chevrolet Volt MPV5 Concept
General Motors is harnessing the small car expertise of their Daewoo division to develop two new small cars, an upscale hatchback to be branded as a Vauxhall or Opel products, and a smaller, less expensive version likely to be sold as a Chevrolet.
The new cars are expected to slot in below the diminutive Corsa, a car considered too small for North America. But the growing popularity of cars like the Fiat 500 has provided some motivation for GM to develop their small car range, especially premium products that can compete with the 500, as well as upcoming entries from other European automakers.
In addition to the small car programs, GM is also looking to make Daewoo a hub for electric vehicle technology, including local production of the Chevrolet Volt.
[Source: Inside Line]
Vauxhall has turned to Lotus for help with their chassis engineering on their upcoming Astra VXR hot hatch. The input from Lotus will supplement the work done by GM division Opel, which is testing the car on German roads.
Lotus has a long tradition of helping third-party manufacturers with their handling and chassis development. Prototypes of cars such as the Nissan GTR were seen at the Lotus test track early on in their development, and Lotus previously helped out with the outgoing Astra VXR.
With the newest edition expected to put down close to 300 horsepower through the front wheels, Lotus has apparently been tasked with tuning the mechanical limited slip fitted to the car. Lotus will ostensibly have to strike a balance between outright performance and quelling the massive torque-steer from the VXR’s turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.
Chevrolet‘s next Aveo will see more bodystyles beyond the traditional hatchback, with a crossover and a sedan among them.
A sedan model will be essential for the U.S. market, where hatchbacks are slowly gaining acceptance, but have been a traditionally tough sell. The Aveo sedan will likely debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January, but details of the car still haven’t been fully fleshed out.
The crossover will likely be built on a stretched Aveo platform with available all wheel drive, and a premium interior with certain components taken from upmarket Opel models like the Insignia. GM Daewoo bosses, who were responsible for developing the Aveo, were quick to stress that the Aveo would not infringe on Opel or Vauxhall cars, which will retain their premium brand and get their own versions of the Aveo crossover.
The Vauxhall Astra is one of Britain’s most popular cars, and is also known as the spectacular flop that was the Saturn Astra in North America. While North Americans didn’t take too kindly to the compact, Belgian-built hatch, Europeans adore the Astra, but the next generation will face some stiff competition from the upcoming Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf.
The Vauxhall GTC concept should give us a glimpse of what the next Astra looks like, and while GM certainly has the styling part down, the guts of the car make us even more optimistic. A 2.0L turbo four-cylinder, 6 speed manual gearbox and big wheels feature prominently, as does a start-stop system. We’d wager that this particular car will pave the way for some kind of sporty hatch. After all, most Astras are sold to families and police departments, where diesel engines and steel wheels are the equipment of choice.
Gallery: Vauxhall GTC Concept
Hit the jump to see the official press release
At a recent meeting regarding their proposed IPO, General Motors outlined their new product plans through the year 2014. According to GM’s plans,70 updates vehicles will be launched by 2012, but most of the vehicles will be for global export markets rather than North America.
While Opel and Vauxhall were confirmed to get 14 new models each, GM executives were a little more evasive regarding North American plans. Vehicles like the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala, both front-wheel drive large sedans, were shown, while attendees also got to see sketches of the next Cadillac CTS.
GM North America President Mark Reuss said that the company’s focus was on the launch of the upcoming Chevrolet Cruze and Volt, compacts that can achieve over 40 mpg
[Source: Inside Line]
As Europe struggles to deal with economic uncertainty in wake of the P-I-G-S crisis, General Motor’s European operations has elected to withdraw its application for government Loan Guarantees. According to sources within GM, the process of securing the loan guarantees has become increasingly complex and is taking longer than anticipated. Although some governments had already committed loan guarantees – particularly Spain and the U.K., uncertainty from others, including Germany, at a time when GM has already committed it’s Opel/Vauxhall brands to new programs and technologies, means that the General has decided to withdraw all applications and instead source the money required internally.
In response to the announcement, Nick Reilly, President of GM Europe and Chairman of Opel/Vauxhall’s management board had this to say. “We appreciate the support indicated by certain governments, especially the U.K. and Spain, but we need to move on. The decision of the German government last week was disappointing and means the conclusion for these guarantees are likely months away. We cannot afford to have uncertain funding plans and time consuming, complex negotiations at this time, when we need to keep investing in new products and technologies. To be clear, our funding needs have not changed and we are grateful to the decision and support of our parent company which will allow us to move forward in this very competitive industry.”
Prior to the announcement the U.K. government had already stated it would commit 330 million Euros (approximately $407 million) worth of Loan Guarantees and the Spanish government a similar amount, this out of a total of 1.8 billion Euros (approx $2.21 billion) requested from across Europe. However with the German government seeking to enter new negotiations, GM has pulled the plug on external funding.
Instead, it will forge ahead with the 11 billion Euro investment plan into future products that was announced back in Februrary. This includes the new Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Meriva, plus the Ampera plug in hybrid, scheduled to be released next year (shown).
[Source: Spiegel Online]
The Vauxhall/Opel Ampera, sister car to the Chevrolet Volt, is set to launch in Europe in 2012, but GM is already preparing a more powerful version in time for the car’s launch, according to AutoExpress.
Nothing concrete has been announced, but sources indicate that a larger gasoline engine and a bigger battery will help make some extra juice. The standard car uses an electric motor and a 1.4L gas engine, putting out roughly 150 horsepower. The Volt can travel up to 40 miles on electricity alone, before a gas motor kicks in.
With the Nissan Leaf already sold out, the demand for an electric car (or plug-in hybrid, like the Volt) is clearly there. But GM might need a competitive edge versus the all-electric Leaf, and a more performance oriented Volt would be a great bridge for those are are on the fence about an electric car, but more open to the idea of a hybrid.
[Source: Auto Express]
General Motors has just announced a deal that will see it’s European Opel brand sold off to Canadian autoparts supplier Magna International. The deal has yet to be finalized, but this morning GM announced Magna was the preferred bidder.
The sale will see Magna and Russian backer Sberbank take a 55 percent stake in both Opel and Vauxhall. Opel employees will get a 10 percent stake in the new company. GM will continue to hold on to a 35 percent stake in Opel.
“The hard work over the past two weeks to clarify open issues and resolve details in the German financial package brought GM and its Board of Directors to recommend Magna/Sberbank,” said Fritz Henderson, GM President and CEO. “We thank all parties involved in the intensive process of the last few months — especially the German government — for their continued support that enables this new venture. I’d also like to thank the Opel and Vauxhall customers for their continued loyalty. GM will continue to closely collaborate with Opel and Vauxhall to develop and produce more great cars, such as the new Insignia and the new Astra,” Henderson added.
The deal will see continued cooperation by GM and Opel, allowing the two automakers to take advantage of economies of scale. The cooperation will also extend to projects like the Ampera (pictured above), a European version of the Chevy Volt.
Official release after the jump:
Only yesterday it seemed as though Italian car maker Fiat was likely to purchase GM’s European Opel brand, but now a new player has emerged. Magna International, the Austrian-Canadian parts supplier to OEMs like Chrysler, Ford and Mercedes has “announced” plans to purchase a controlling share in Opel.
The news didn’t come from Magna, however, but from a politician in Germany. Kurt Beck, the state premier of Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the German states where Opel builds its cars, announced that Magna wants to acquire a 20 percent stake in Opel directly.
A spokesman for Beck said that Magna is also looking into other options to gain an even larger share of Opel. This could include, as reported in Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, a deal with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska that would see the two partners purchase as much as 50 percent of Opel.
A Magna spokesman would not comment on the news.
General Motors is eager to part with Opel as it needs to sell off much of the company in order to secure $3.4 billion in loans from the German government. Currently Fiat is the only other strong contender for Opel.
General Motors is also looking to find a buyer for it’s British Vauxhall brand, however, no major bidders have emerged.
[Source: Automotive News]