Saturday 28 June 2008

United States vs Europe: The battle of car sales

The U.S is a very big car market, as is Europe, particularly Russia, Germany and the UK. I have gathered some sales figures for this year, from Europe and the U.S. during the first five months of the year (January - May) and compiled a list with the top 10 best selling vehicles from each side of the Atlantic. The results will start from the most popular model.


Ford F-Series - 235,924

Toyota Camry - 198,309

Chevrolet Silverado - 197,030

Honda Accord - 166,158

Honda Civic - 164,994

Toyota Corolla - 152,308

Nissan Altima - 133,465

Chevrolet Impala - 122,281

Dodge Ram - 112,795

Ford Focus - 105,499


VW Golf - 208,800

Peugeot 207 - 204,379

Ford Focus - 176,698

Vauxhall/Opel Corsa - 174,667

Renault Clio - 162,816

Vauxhall/Opel Astra - 161,166

Ford Fiesta - 151,050

Fiat Punto - 151,050

Volkswagen Polo - 125,427

BMW 3-Series - 114,203

Related link:

Top 10 selling cars in Europe

BMW working on a larger SUV than the X5?

BMW may build its extra-large X7 SUV. The newcomer is suppose to rival the Mercedes GL-Class, which itself has proved fairly popular. Judging by the name, the X7 could be based off the 7 Series sedan, like the X5 is based on the 5 Series.

Sources within BMW are saying that the project is currently snoozing because BMW wants to see what happens with the U.S SUV market. At the moment, things aren't looking good as most customers are converting to more fuel efficient cars like the Honda Civic. This could make the German car-maker cancel the project.

The SUV segment is under extreme fire from environmentalists and generally anti-SUV groups, hence why the BMW X3, X1 and Mini SUV are arriving. The X7 would only work if alternative fuels like hydrogen and hybrid technology become more mainstream.

Friday 27 June 2008

Train plows into a parked BMW 5 Series (Estonia)

At the moment, its unknown how this train rammed into a BMW 5 Series in Tallinn, Estonia. Whether is a human error or mechanical fault is anyone's guess. The fact is that this train that arrived to the Tallinn station in Estonia from Moscow, Russia, didn’t stop where it was supposed to. As you can see in these pictures, the train came to a halt just inches away from the Tallinn station building. The owner of the BMW 5-Series that was parked in front of the station wasn’t so fortunate as the train rammed the driver’s side of the car.

Skoda's receive low-rider treatment (Czech Republic)

A transporter carrying nine brand new Skoda vehicles hit a bridge connecting to two buildings in the Czech Republic, when its driver underestimated the height of the transporter and its good. From what we can tell, at least six of the nine Octavias and Fabias on board were in one way or another damaged.

Man rigs fuel pump so friends can have free gas

Thanks to surging fuel prices, an unidentified man managed to unlock a gas pump at a Citgo station in Southern Florida, allowing his friends to steal an estimated 100 gallons of petrol. The thefts happened on Friday night, just after midnight and according to the owner of the petrol station Frank Veloso, seven cars managed to get away with free petrol. The owner believes that the man used a master key to open up the gas pump.

"It's not our fault that the prices of petrol have gotten so expensive, but now because of the expenses that we have to incur to protect ourselves, it only makes sense that we're going to have to raise prices even more," said Frank Veloso Jr., the owner's son.

In related news, the police have revealed an huge rise in the number of fuel thefts from cars, as petrol prices continue to soar. Petrol thefts have increased by an enormous 75% this year, with criminals siphoning fuel from other motorist’s tanks.

4 days ago, a farmer’s wife from County Durham died of a heart attack after her husband confronted a man who was stealing diesel from the couples farm.

Petrol now costs an average of 118p per litre but with diesel hitting 131p, the fuel siphoning gangs are targeting the tanks of large agricultural vehicles, and static tanks that farmers have on site.

A recent AA survey revealed that two out of three drivers plan to vote against Labour if petrol rises above £1.25 per litre. President of the AA Edmund King commented; “All political parties should remember that there are thirty-two million driving licence holders out there and most of them have the vote.”

The deepening crisis comes after PM Gordon Brown attended a fuel summit in Saudi Arabia where he argued for an increase in oil production to stem the rising costs of refined fuel.

13 people squeeze into a Smart ForTwo Brabus

Who said the Smart ForTwo was only for 2 people? Well, if there’s no need to drive, the ForTwo can actually fit 13 people. This was proven during the annual Smart Destination Brooklands event held at Mercedes-Benz World at Weybridge in the UK.

With more than 1,200 Smarts attending the event, there was no shortage of participants but the winning team was the ‘smart car-tortionists’, a group of body-bending specialists chosen for their gymnastic feats. The flexible ‘smart car-tortionists’ managed to squeeze 13 people. Just for the record, there were more women than men in the team.

This follows when a popular kids show back in 2006 managed to squeeze 25 kids into the previous ForTwo.

Daihatsu fan purchases entire line-up within 3 years (UK)

A big fan of the Japanese carmaker, John MacKay from Axminster, UK has managed to buy all four models of Daihatsu’s current line-up in 2 and a half years. It all started when Mr. MacKay and his wife came to pick up their new Copen Vivid roadster from a Daihatsu dealer. During the visit, the couple not only left with the Copen but they also placed an order for the Sirion hatchback.

1 and half years later, the Daihatsu loving duo replaced their Copen with a new Terios SUV in April 2007, they brought yet another Sirion. Finally, in March 2008, following his retirement from the army, Mr. MacKay purchased the latest model, the Scion-esque Materia MPV.

Nissan Maxima pricing announced (U.S)

Nissan has announced the pricing on its all-new, Maxima sedan. The flagship sedan is only offered exclusively with a 290 bhp 3.5-litre V6 engine that is mated with a CVT transmission.

The entry level 'S' model will start at $29,290, rising to $31,990 for the range-topping 3.5 SV.

If you like to accessorise your car, the Maxima is also available with a series of new option packages, including the Sport Package which is only available with the 3.5 SV. The Sports Package comes with sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, paddle shifters and more while the Premium Package, again only available with the range-topping 3.5 SV comes with dual panel sunroof, 7-inch color monitor with RearView camera, Eucalyptus wood-tone trim and more.

Related link:

Nissan Maxima production starts

Nissan starts 24 hour production at Sunderland plant (UK)

Nissan UK has announced plans to begin 24-hour production at its Sunderland factory. The 24hr production allows 800 new jobs to be created during the night-shift in the area and will allow Nissan to meet demand for its popular Qashqai crossover.

Extra capacity is needed at Sunderland to accommodate the forthcoming seven-seat variant of the Qashqai, when it launches in this August.

When production reaches maximum speed, Nissan says it will build 6100 Qashqais per week at the plant.

Production of the Micra, which is also built at Sunderland, will shift to China in 2010, but replacing the Micra at the plant will be a smaller crossover the sits below the Qashqai instead.

Related link:

Smart ForTwo joins the police force (UK)

The Metropolitan Police will be fighting crime a Smart Electric Drive (ED) city cars from next month, as part of a new trial. Four police versions of the zero-emissions two-seater will be deployed on routine police patrols in central London and Heathrow airport.

The aim of the trial is to gather data about the Smart ED's performance in everyday life. The car is powered by a 41bhp electric motor, does a top-speed of 60mph and has a range of 70 miles. Police will then have to recharge the Smart ED's batteries from a standard three-pin plug.

This isn't the first time the police have used a Smart car on patrol. The City of London used the first generation of the city car as an emergency response vehicle in 2002. Local councils also controversially use Smart cars fitted with CCTV cameras to monitor central London streets. Dermot Kelly, managing director, Mercedes-Benz Cars, said, "This Smart ED market trial is an important part of our commitment to sustainable mobility".

Tuesday 24 June 2008

Porsche customers say "NO" to stop-start system

While Porsche fans welcoming new technology like the direct-injection and the dual-clutch gearboxes that help improve fuel-economy, Porsche customers aren't liking the all-new “Start-and-Stop” system.

Talking with Porsche engineers at the press launch of the 2009 911, sources learned that while a Start-Stop system was considered for the facelifted model, the sports manufacturer clientele put a brake on the use of such a system.

The company’s engineers told reporters that if they had fitted the facelifted 911 with a BMW-style start-stop system, it would have reduced a further 10g/km of CO2 from the 911's 225g/km CO2 emissions.

Apparently, Porsche fans will take all the green technology the German firm can offer them as long it also improves performance and/or dynamics.

'09 RX350 becomes two-faced!

The second generation of the Lexus RX mid-sized SUV dates back to 2002, since then not much has changed...maybe the odd tweak here and there, but thats all going to change. The RX is now due for a complete redesign.

Previous mules sighted were modified RXs' of the outgoing model but these new spy photos show a genuine prototype which has finished lapping the Nurburgring race-track. While some of the newcomer stays the same, some styling will be hinting at the LF-Xh concept, first shown at the '07 Tokyo motorshow.

The 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine will remain the same and a 400bhp engine will be arriving down the line. The hugely popular RX hybrid should also reach showrooms before 2010. The RX will make a world debut at the Paris motorshow this October before production starts in December '08. The RX should reach Lexus dealers in 2009, 2010 model year for the U.S market.

If you look carefully, you will see the the prototype being loaded onto the truck has a revised rear fasica compared to the other prototype thats already in the truck.

Via > 2010 Lexus RX spy photos

Related link:

Sunday 22 June 2008

Hyundai exceeds 100,000 units in exports

Hyundai Motor India, the country's second largest passenger car manufacturer and the largest exporter, announced that its recently launched i10, which is produced in the automaker's Chennai plant, has already crossed the export milestone of 100,000 units.

The Hyundai i10 made its global debut in October 2007, reached an export volume of 106,749 units and has been shipped to 98 countries.

H. S. Lheem, managing director, Hyundai Motor India said, "Even in the domestic market the demand is very strong with sales of over 65,000 units and to meet the expectations of both the markets, we are trying very hard to produce as many i10s as possible."

In other news, the i10 in the UK will feature a new 1.2 litre petrol engine which will join the range in September. The new engine will produce 76bhp and 87lb ft of pulling power, which is an increase of 18% more power and 20% more pulling power than the existing 1.1-litre unit. Emissions will top 119g/km of CO2 and an average fuel economy of 56.5mpg are identical.

That means the manual will slot into VED Band B, costing £35 a year to tax. Hyundai has also announced that the Style grades of the i10 will also get leather interior from September and that stability control will be available for £350 on 1.2-litre models. The current 1.1 litre petrol engine will be dropped for the Style model since the manual pollutes 124g/km of CO2 despite featuring heated front seats and electric sunroof and returning 54.3 mpg combined.

The new engine is available on Comfort and Style models and costs from £7545.


1.1 Classic £6745
1.1 Comfort £7345
1.2 Comfort £7545
1.2 Comfort auto £8345
1.2 Style £7995

Related links:

Hyundai April sales in India

New Car: 2008 Hyundai i10

Seat's new sedan to be called "Exeo"

Seat has officially announced the name of their new D-Segment car. The newcomer will be named "Exeo", pronounced (ex-ay-o) and not Bolero as previously thought. The Exeo is be based upon the 2005 Audi A4 and will use the latest Volkswagen engines. First to be launched will be the sedan next year, followed by the wagon. Rivals will include the Ford Mondeo, Renault Laguna, Peugeot 407, Honda Accord and Vauxhall/Opel Insignia etc.

Seat’s Director of Design, Luc Donckerwolke said “We believe the Seat brand will become established much faster in this highly competitive sector if the first model we offer has a proven record of quality and reliability. With the Audi A4-based model, there will be no room for doubt.”

A Geneva motorshow debut is likely since the project was announced just over 1 year ago. So far, only 1 prototype has been sighted undergoing altitude testing in the Swiss Alps during the night. Production will being this December with prices starting around £15,000.

Press Release:

SEAT’s new saloon will be called “EXEO”

In addition to the saloon, there will be a family versionTo be wholly manufactured at the Martorell plant

SEAT’s new saloon car will be called “EXEO”.

Its market launch that is scheduled for 2009 marks a new highlight in the history of the Spanish brand, which is expanding its model range towards new segments. The SEAT EXEO is an elegant, dynamic saloon with high quality and outstanding technology that faithfully reflects SEAT’s personality – design, sportiness and liveliness.

The name EXEO is advanced, forceful and technological, which signals excellence and is highly suggestive of driving pleasure.

Faithful to SEAT’s Mediterranean roots, the new name stems from the Latin word “Exire”, meaning ‘to go beyond’, ‘to go further’. The name differs from all the other range denominations, and indicates the beginning of a new period for the company, that takes the brand into an all new segment. The successful names of the models of the current range will be maintained.

The SEAT EXEO is a D-segment model which does not replace the SEAT Toledo.

Saturday 21 June 2008

Volkswagen Scirocco order books opened (UK)

Volkswagen UK has announced that order books are now opened for the Scirocco coupe, before deliveries start on 1st September. The original Scirocco sold a total of 77,460 in its 34 year life. The new model is set to sell around 3,350 units this year, rising to 9,000 units next year.

From launch, only one model will be available; Scirocco GT. Powering the coupe is VW's very own 2.0-litre TSI 200PS engine (seen in the Golf GTI) and will be priced at £20,940 RRP OTR. Either a 6-speed manual or DSG transmissions are available. The Scirocco GT produces 207 lbs ft of torque from 1,700 rpm and allows the Scirocco to achieve a 0 to 62 mph time of 7.2 seconds and a top speed of 146 mph. Fuel economy on a combined cycle is 37.2 mpg with CO2 emissions of 179 g/km, which places it in VED Band E.

Over 11,000 people have expressed an interested in the Scirocco coupe.

Press Release:


Customers keen to be among the first to drive away a new Scirocco can officially add their names to the waiting list as the car becomes available to order at Volkswagen Retailers across the UK today. Prices for the new car, which goes on sale on 1 September, have also been announced and start at £20,940 RRP on the road for the launch model, the Scirocco GT 2.0-litre TSI with 200 PS. The original Scirocco was first seen 34 years ago, and over two generations and 19 years a total of 77,460 Sciroccos were sold in the UK. Now the new model blows in, with equally distinctive coupé styling, a practical hatchback boot, four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive – yet this is the most technically advanced production coupé that Volkswagen has produced. All UK models benefit from Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) which operates via a set of four electrically adjustable dampers to alter the car’s suspension, steering and throttle response set-up, and allows the driver to choose the most appropriate setting for the journey. Normal is the default; Sport adds firmer suspension and sharper responses for twisty roads or track driving; while Comfort offers a smooth and controlled ride best suited to motorway trips. At launch, all Sciroccos will be powered by a 2.0-litre TSI 200 PS engine with either a six-speed manual or automatic DSG gearbox. Versions with a DSG ’box will command a £1,330 premium over their manual counterparts. The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine – already popular in the Golf GTI – produces 207 lbs ft of torque from 1,700 rpm and allows the Scirocco to achieve a 0 to 62 mph time of 7.2 seconds before reaching a top speed of 146 mph. The combined economy figure for the vehicle is 37.2 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 179 g/km.

Early in 2009 a further two engines will join the Scirocco line-up: a 1.4-litre TSI 160 PS petrol and a 2.0-litre TDI common rail diesel unit with 140 PS and a combined economy of around 52 mpg. Both will come as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, while the 1.4-litre TSI will also be offered with Volkswagen’s new seven-speed DSG ’box. Two trim levels will be available – standard Scirocco and Scirocco GT. The launch engine is only available in combination with GT trim, giving customers a high level of standard specification which includes ABS with ESP, six airbags, touchscreen CD autochanger, climate control, 18-inch ‘Interlagos’ alloy wheels, front foglights and a multifunction steering wheel among a host of other items. Options are set to include a panoramic tilt sunroof, leather trim and touchscreen satellite navigation.

Volkswagen UK predicts sales of 3,350 Sciroccos this year, rising to around 9,000 in 2009 when a full line-up is available. Already over 11,000 people have signed up via to receive email updates on the new Scirocco model.

Friday 20 June 2008

Renault takes a Scenic route

Following the leaked images of the Megane hatchback and coupe, the Megane based minivan, Scenic, has been spied completely undisguised in a Renault factory in France and a road-going prototype wearing heavy camouflage caught undergoing warm-weather/altitude testing in Southern Spain.

Like the current Scenic, the next model will be offered in 2 sizes; Scenic which will be a 5 seater and the 7-seater Grand Scenic. Expect an pseudo SUV based on the Scenic to arrive later on in 2011.

Styling wise, Renault seems to be stuck in conventional mode. The overall styling of both vehicles seem to be very clean and conventional, which first featured on the Twingo then the Laguna, and will be followed by the Megane. The scanned photos show how the 5-seater and 7-seater will receive different tail-lights. While the Grand Scenic has the lower section of the rear lights facing outwards, the Scenic will have boot-lid mounted lights. Following in the tracks of the Laguna and Laguna Coupe, the newcomer will have feature LED rear-lights.

The interior will be more upmarket unlike the current model and materials such as soft-touch plastics will be used to give the minivan a premium feel. The Scenic will also boast more storage compartments than ever before with the rear seats having an ability to fold flat.

Engines will be taken from the Megane range and are set to be more reliable than the current model, which suffered from numerous engine and electrical niggles. Expect the new Scenic to be unveiled at the Paris motorshow in October, alongside the Megane before going on sale in early 2009.

Related links:

Is Volkswagen working on a longer Tiguan SUV?

Following the success of the Tiguan, according to German sources, Volkswagen is planning a LWB Tiguan, although, there is no official word out from Volkswagen.

The extra length will support a 3rd row of seats which are likely to be suitable for children. If this does get the go-ahead, engines will be used from the existing line-up and the vehicle will use a different face from today's Tiguan.

Suzuki Swift production exceeds 1,000,000 units

Although the Swift hatchback came onto the market in 2005 with a redesigned interior and exterior, the supermini has now sold in excess of 1 million units. The Swift was first built in Japan, followed by Hungary, China, India and more recently Indonesia and Malaysia.

Vehicles sold in Europe are built at Suzuki’s plant in Hungary which has so far pushed out more than 306,000 units.

The Swift range consists of the 3dr and 5dr hatchback, 3dr Sport (Europe) and 5dr Sport (Australia and Japan) and the 4dr Swift sedan (Dzire). The vehicle is due a facelift in 2009.

Russian Jeep owner tell us what he really thinks about fuel economy

Some people just couldn't care less about fuel economy, especially this Jeep Cherokee owner in Russia. So, what do you think about fuel economy?

Chevrolet Volt hits around $40,000 (U.S)

The Chevrolet Volt will cost $40,000, Bob Lutz announced.

GM will lose money on each Volt that leaves the factory when they go on sale in 2010, because the hybrid drive has cost so much to research, develop and engineer.

Lutz is convinced that developing cars like the Volt is the way forward and that future generations of these cars will become popular. "We believe profoundly in the electrification of the automobile," he said.

It was a mistake for GM not to build hybrid vehicles earlier, Lutz also admitted. Even though these cars make no instant profit, companies envy the positive publicity that hybrids have afforded Toyota. GM is confident about the 2010 launch of the Volt, and Lutz added robustly: “For the first time, our well-thought-of Asian competitors will be left in the dust.”

The Volt was originally pitched ot the public with a $30,000 price tag, and that may still be achievable in some U.S states where green tax incentives could reduce the asking price.

Unlike Toyota’s hybrid cars, the Volt runs for 40 miles on electricity alone before a frugal, constant-speed engine kicks in to recharge the batteries.

Market trends reveal that the U.S are starting to abandon their large, thirsty SUVs since petrol prices topped $4 per gallon across the country.

Dacia launch delayed (UK)

Dacia has delayed the launch of the Sandero hatchback, next month at the London motorshow because of high demand from left hand drive markets so the right hand drive production has been put back.

Around 100 Renault showrooms were poised to sign-up to sell the Romanian-built model, which will be badged ‘Dacia by Renault’ in the UK. The marketing plan was to price the Sandero from just £7500.

Dealers have been told that the Sandero’s market launch has been postponed by 12 months until late 2009. The company’s preview event for dealers has been cancelled and the UK media launch has also been axed.

The delay is bad news for Renault’s hard-pressed dealers. To add insult to injury, sales of the new Laguna have been slow in the UK as the brand registered a 13.5% decline in sales in the year to the end of May.

Renault bosses in the UK are frustrated by the delay as Dacia is intended to rival Chevrolet, Kia and Hyundai in the budget car market. Frustrations have been compounded by the fact a small Dacia SUV will be launched in other countries by the end of next year and will arrive in the UK in 2010.

Related links:

Wednesday 18 June 2008

Mercedes confirms A-Class plan

Mercedes will ditch the "sandwich" floor because its claimed that it is too expensive to porduce and will allow the platform to be used for other vehicles.

The 2011 A-Class is set to rival small premium cars like the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Audi A2. Prices are expected to start from £16,500. The A-Class platform will also spawn a possible cabriolet, sedan, SUV and an MPV.

More can be found below.

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Audi A7 uncovered....well nearly

The Mercedes CLS fighter is hidden underneath this thick piece of cloth. The Audi A7 coupe was caught outside the firms factory and will launch in Europe by 2009, but is expected to be revealed at the Frankfurt motorshow sometime next year.

The Mercedes CLS isn't the only rival, BMW is apparently producing their own 4 door coupe, which we should see sometime in 2010.

The prototype is very similar to the sketch, with a sloping roofline that leads down to the bootlid and a slightly up-swept window line to give the car a coupe look and feel. The chassis of the car will be shared with the Audi A6 and the platform is shared with the next generation A6. Sources suggest that the vehicle could measure at 4.9 metres/4900mm.

Expect Audi's famous front daytime running LED lights and LED rear-lights. Audi hopes to sell 40,000 units once production is in full swing.

Powering the newcomer at launch will be a 2.8-litre direct-injection FSI V6, 3.0-litre supercharged V6 which will find its way under the S4's hood aswell and a 4.2 litre FSI V8 petrol engine. Only 2 diesel engines will be available; 2.7 litre TDI V6 and a 3.0 litre TDI V6. Diesel engines are expected to nab most sales. More powerful variants dubbed; S7 and RS7 will use a 5.2 litre V10 that will develop around 600bhp for the latter. Mated to the engines will be 3 transmissions; six-speed manual, seven-speed dual-clutch or automatic transmission and a seven-speed S-tronic which features in the S5.

Price tags will start from £35,000 rising to £50,000 but if you want the RS7, expect to pay in excess of £70,000.

Related link:

Audi A7 Coupe sketch leaked

Skoda Superb pricing announced (UK)

The Skoda Superb will start from £15,490, an increase of £1,400 more than the outgoing model. Engines include the VW Group’s 1.8 TSI petrol, the 2.0-litre TDI diesel and the 3.6-litre V6 petrol.

Prices will reach £26,675 for the flagship Elegance model, which features four-wheel-drive and a 3.6 litre V6 petrol engine.

Three trims are S, SE and Elegance. S trim has seven airbags, alarm, automatic headlights, split-folding rear seats, remote central locking, climate control, an iPod-compatible CD player, four electric windows, electrically operated/heated door mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, stability control and front foglights.

SE trim adds S trim and cornering foglights, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, Alcantara upholstery, rear parking sensors, cruise control, dual-zone air-con, 17-inch alloy wheels, electrically folding door mirrors and a 6-CD touch-screen stereo.

Elegance adds SE trim and bi-xenon headlights, adaptive front headlights, a tyre-pressure monitoring system, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth phone connectivity, heated front seats, full leather upholstery, electrically adjustable seats, satellite navigation system and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The Superb sedan/hatchback goes on sale this September.

Related links:

New Car: 2008 Skoda Superb

Upcoming Skoda rumors

Porsche to launch diesel-powered Cayenne in March 2009

Sick and tired of your Porsche Cayenne that runs on petrol and consumes 12.9 litres of fuel per km, or returns 21.9 mpg, then wait untill March 2009 when the diesel arrives.

The German automaker will launch it's diesel version of the large SUV in March next year. Sources claim that the new model added to the range will command of price in the region of €55,000 and Porsche will look to shift around 15,000 units annually off showroom boosting yearly Cayenne sales numbers to over 50,000 units.

Related link:

Tuesday 17 June 2008

TomTom, where is iPhone?

The world’s most popular satellite navigation system could soon be hooking up with the quirkiest mobile phone. The Dutch company, TomTom has revealed it is working on software that will run on Apple’s second-generation iPhone 3G.

The TomTom navigation system would be in addition to the GPS mapping feature that is already standard on the iPhone. It allows users to pinpoint their location via satellites, mobile phone masts and even Wi-Fi hotspots. They can then get directions and plot their progress along the route.

The U.S accounts for 50% of global sales so the revised iPhone goes on sale in July, while the TomTom set up will appear at a later date.

Honda FCX Clarity production begins & U.S spec revealed

The first Honda FCX Clarity has rolled off the production line in Japan. The zero-emission car won’t be coming to Europe yet, as Honda is initially leasing a fleet of 200 vehicles to customers in the California and Japan.

Customers will pay roughly £300/$600 per month over three years for the privilege, but drivers will be conscious of the car’s 270-mile range as there are only 3 hydrogen filling stations in California and 12 in Japan.

John Kingston, environment manager for Honda UK, said; “The arrival of the first hydrogen fuel cell car is particularly significant during this time of rapidly increasing oil prices. Honda is proud to offer an alternative energy solution that could reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and the effect of motoring on climate change."

Under the FCX’s skin is a fuel cell stack that uses an electromechanical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to convert chemical energy into electrical energy, which in turn powers the 134bhp motor. Only water exits out of its exhaust.

The first car that has rolled off the production line is destined for a customer in Japan.

Press Release:

TOCHIGI, Japan - American Honda Motor Co., Inc., today announced five of the first customers for its advanced new FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle and also provided details of the world's first fuel cell vehicle dealership network in the United States. The announcements were made during a ceremony for the start of FCX Clarity production at the world's first dedicated fuel cell vehicle manufacturing facility in Japan.

Film producer Ron Yerxa will take delivery of the first FCX Clarity in July. The remaining four early adopters for Honda's next-generation fuel cell vehicle are author and actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her filmmaker husband Christopher Guest; business owner and car enthusiast Jim Salomon; actress Laura Harris; and Jon Spallino, already the world's first retail fuel cell vehicle customer, who has been leasing the current generation FCX since 2005. Yerxa, Harris and Spallino attended the event in Japan.

To provide its customers with outstanding sales and service support and as a critical step in advancing fuel cell vehicles in the real world, American Honda announced the establishment of the first network of dealers to facilitate the sales and service of fuel cell vehicles. The three Southern California Honda dealers are Power Honda Costa Mesa (Costa Mesa), Honda of Santa Monica (Santa Monica) and Scott Robinson Honda (Torrance).

"This is an important day in the history of fuel cell vehicle technology and a monumental step closer to the day when fuel cell cars will be part of the mainstream," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "Our customers and dealers share in our vision for a cleaner and more sustainable transportation future, and share in our challenge to embrace a new generation of automotive technology that we think will carry the auto industry and its customers into the future."

FCX Clarity Customers:

The five customers announced today were among the very first people to share with Honda their passion for the environment and interest in the FCX Clarity, dating back to its debut as a concept model at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show. The initial criteria for fuel cell vehicle ownership, including proximity to hydrogen refueling stations, driving patterns and vehicle needs, all played a part in Honda's customer selection process.

"Auto companies can't explore the potential for fuel cell technology as the ultimate solution to our world's energy and environmental challenges by ourselves. Our customers are true pioneers and leaders in the effort to bring fuel cell technology to the marketplace," said Mendel.Ron Yerxa, a film producer and partner at Bona Fide Productions, is a long-time car enthusiast and advocate for the environment. He lives with his wife, Annette Ballester, in Santa Monica, California. Yerxa first learned of the FCX Concept vehicle from a car magazine and contacted American Honda to share his interest and enthusiasm.

Jon Spallino, partner and Chief Financial Officer of an Irvine, California-based engineering and construction firm and the world's first retail customer of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle, is excited to trade in his first-generation FCX for the all-new FCX Clarity. Having lived with fuel cell technology for three years now, Spallino and his family, residents of Redondo Beach, California, are looking forward to the all-new vehicle's vastly improved performance, enhanced features, improved fuel efficiency, and advanced four-door, four-passenger sedan design.

Actress and children's book author Jamie Lee Curtis and her husband, filmmaker Christopher Guest, also live with their family in Santa Monica. Curtis and Guest have owned other alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles, and they continue to seek out ways to live and advocate a greener lifestyle.

Jim Salomon, a business owner and car enthusiast, resides in Newport Beach, California with his family and will be American Honda's first retail customer to regularly refuel at the recently renovated Irvine hydrogen refueling station. Salomon and his family live in a home he designed and built with an emphasis on energy efficiency as well as recycled and sustainable materials.

Actress and green advocate Laura Harris learned about the FCX Clarity from a friend and test drove a prototype car at the Los Angeles auto show in November 2007. Canadian-born Harris lives in Silverlake, California, and will refuel primarily in Burbank. Lessons learned from her usage patterns and experiences can help pave the way for eventual market expansion outside of the Irvine, Torrance, and Santa Monica areas.

Honda previously announced plans to deliver about 200 FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles in the U.S. and Japan to customers in the first three years of production, with leases beginning in July. The lease program marks the world's first large-scale retail initiative for fuel cell vehicle technology.

First-ever Fuel Cell Vehicle Dealership Network:

Reinforcing its commitment to further advance Honda fuel cell technology, American Honda announced that three Southern California dealerships will comprise the world's first fuel cell automobile dealership network. Power Honda Costa Mesa, Honda of Santa Monica and Scott Robinson Honda are each located in close proximity to hydrogen refueling stations and will be well-positioned to support Honda's growing base of FCX Clarity customers. American Honda is working with its dealer partners to implement processes for fuel cell vehicle lease, delivery and service support for the duration of their leases. Establishing a dedicated sales network and service infrastructure provides customers with the best balance of convenience and the highest quality of service. When the FCX Clarity requires periodic maintenance, customers will simply schedule a visit with their local FCX Clarity dealer. American Honda will perform all required work at its specialized fuel cell service facility, in the greater Los Angeles area. Upon completion of the work, the dealer will return the vehicle to the customer.

About the FCX Clarity:

The FCX Clarity is a next-generation, hydrogen powered fuel cell-powered vehicle. Propelled by an electric motor that runs on electricity generated in the fuel cell, the vehicle's only emission is water, and its fuel efficiency is three times that of a modern gasoline-powered automobile. Based on the entirely-new Honda V Flow fuel cell platform, and powered by a highly compact, efficient and powerful new Honda V Flow fuel cell stack, the FCX Clarity marks the significant progress Honda continues to make in advancing the real-world performance and appeal of the fuel cell car.

Significant advances over Honda's previous generation FCX include:

an advanced new four passenger sedan design

a greater than 30 percent increase in driving range up to 280 miles*

a 25 percent increase in combined fuel economy to 72 miles/kg-H2*
(74 mpg GGE )

a 50 percent improvement in fuel stack power output density by volume

a 40 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter new lithium ion battery pack

Honda is responsible for the development of the world's first fuel cell car (Honda FCX) to be certified for regular commercial use by the U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board; the first deployment of a fuel cell car with a fleet customer; and the first individual retail customer for a fuel cell vehicle.*Based on official 2008 EPA estimated range and fuel efficiency values.

U.S Specification:


Drive-by-Wire™ Throttle System •
Shift-by-Wire Gear Selector •
Front-Wheel Drive •
CARB Emissions Rating ZEV V FLOW FUEL CELL STACK Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) •
Power Output 100kW Size (liters) 57 Weight (lbs) 148


Lithium-Ion Battery • Output (Volts) 288


AC Synchronous Permanent-Magnet Electric Motor •
Horsepower (SAE net) 134 Torque (lb-ft @ rpm) 189 @ 0 - 3,056
Power Output 100kW


Double Wishbone Front Suspension •
Independent Multi-Link Rear Suspension •
Stabilizer Bar (mm, front/rear) 28.6 / 14.0 Electric Power-Assisted Rack-and-Pinion Steering (EPS) •
Steering Wheel Turns, Lock-to-Lock 3.34 Steering Ratio 16.1 :1 Turning Diameter, Curb-to-Curb (ft) 35.4
Power-Assisted Ventilated Front Disc/Solid Rear Disc Brakes (front/rear) •
Wheels 16" Aluminum Alloy/Resin Aerodynamic Wheels All-Season Tires 215/60 R16 95H


Wheelbase (in.) 110.2
Length (in.) 190.3
Height (in.) 57.8
Width (in.) 72.7
Track (in., front/rear) 62.2 / 62.8
Curb Weight (lbs.) 3582
Weight Distribution (%, front/rear) 53/47


Headroom (in, front/rear) 38.6 / 37.1
Legroom (in, front/rear) 41.9 / 37.9
Shoulder Room (in, front/rear) 58.8 / 56.2
Hiproom (in, front/rear) 57.5 / 54.6
Cargo Volume (cu. ft.) 13.1 (includes storage well)
Passenger Volume (cu. ft.) 100.8 Seating Capacity 4


Miles Per Kilogram (City/Highway/Combined) 77 / 67 / 72 Miles Per Gasoline Gallon Equivalent (GGE) City/Highway/Combined 79 / 68 / 74 Driving Range 280 Fuel Capacity (Nominal) / System Pressure 4.1 kg @ 5000psi Required Fuel Compressed Hydrogen Gas *Based on official EPA estimated range and fuel efficiency values for the 2008 FCX Clarity. Use for comparison purposes only. Actual mileage may vary.


3-Point Seat Belts at all Seating Positions •
Front Passenger-Side and Rear 3-Point Seat Belts with Automatic Tensioning System •
Driver's and Front Passenger's Seat Belt Reminder •
Dual-Stage, Dual-Threshold Front Airbags (SRS) •
Front Side Airbags with Passenger-Side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) •
Side Curtain Airbags •
Driver's and Front Passenger's Active Head Restraints •
Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with Traction Control •
Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) •
Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) •
Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) •
Brake Assist •
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) •
Daytime Running Lights (DRL) •
Side-Impact Door Beams •
Outboard Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) •
Child-Proof Rear Door Locks •
Emergency Trunk Release •


Roof-Mounted Antenna •
Aluminum Alloy/Resin Aerodynamic Wheels •
Security System •
Remote Entry System with Trunk Release •
Variable Intermittent Windshield Wipers •
Body-Colored Power Side Mirrors •
Satin-Finish Door Handles •
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlights •
Combination LED Brakelights •
Aluminum Hood/Trunk/Fenders/Doors •


Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control System •
Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation SystemTM with Voice Recognition and Rearview Camera •
Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® * •
Interface Dial with Scrolling and Multi-Line Display •
Vehicle Start Button •
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) •
HomeLink® Remote System ** •
Power Windows with Auto-Up/Down Driver's and Front Passenger's Windows •
Illuminated Power Window Switches •
Power Door Locks •
Illuminated Steering Wheel-Mounted Audio and Cruise Controls •
Steering Wheel-Mounted Navigation and Phone Controls •
Tilt and Telescopic Steering Column •
Beverage Holders, Front and Rear • Front Passenger's Illuminated Vanity Mirror •
Blue Ambient Console Lighting •
Map Lights • Sunglasses Holder •
12-Volt Power Outlet •
Lockable Glove Compartment with Light •
Driver- and Passenger-Side Seatback Pockets •
Remote Trunk Release •
Remote Fuel Filler Door Release •
Rear Window Defroster •
Cargo Area Light •
Floor Mats •
Side Door Pockets •

*HomeLink® is a registered trademark of Price Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Controls™ **The Bluetooth word mark and logos are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc., and any use of such marks by Honda Motor Co., Ltd., is under license.


Honda Bio-Fabric-Trimmed Interior •
Heated and Cooled Front Seats •


AM/FM/CD Audio System with 6 Speakers •
MP3/Windows Media® Audio (WMA) Playback Capability •
XM® Radio * •
USB Audio Interface •

* Required XM® Radio monthly subscription sold separately after 90 day trial period.
Installation costs and other fees and taxes may apply after initial trial period, including a one-time activation fee. Subscription fee is consumer only. All fees and programming subject to change. Subscriptions subject to Customer Agreement available at XM service only available in the 48 contiguous United States. The XM name is a registered trademark of XM Satellite Radio Inc.


Maintenance Minder™ System •
Digital Odometer and Digital Trip Meters (2) •
Door/Trunk-Open Indicators •
Exterior Temperature Indicator •
Instantaneous Hydrogen Consumption Meter 3-D Sphere
Hydrogen Fuel-Level Indicator •
Low Fuel Indicator •
Lithium-Ion Battery Charge and Assist Indicators •
Miles-to-Empty Indicator •

Volkswagen to drop Rabbit in U.S market? (U.S)

Updated: 27/06/08

The Rabbit won't be axed from the U.S line-up. VW of America spokesman Steve Keyes, said "We are currently planning the new Golf VI and GTI introduction for the fall of next year. The estimated volumes are already included in our 2009 financials." Citing sources close to VW Chairman Martin Winterkorn, Der Spiegel reported that VW would not place the new Golf, which is due to make its world debut at the Paris motorshow in October, on sale in the U.S. due to concerns over currency-exchange rates and the depressed state of the North American economy. With the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the euro holding well above the $1.50 mark, VW's marketing strategists didn't see much chance of the new hatchback contributing to profitability, according to Der Spiegel.

Volkswagen is strongly considering dropping the Rabbit from the U.S line-up due to the weak U.S dollar. Volkswagen also said that the Scirooco won't go on sale in the U.S for the same reason.

The German firm wants to improve its profitability margins in its pursuit of market leader Toyota but the Rabbit (Golf in Europe), isn’t selling as well as the company would like.

The Tiguan and Touareg SUVs are massively popular, but the U.S market has proved disastrous for VW recently, with the North American wing of the company posting billion-dollar losses.

Volkswagen is likely to build a new factory in the U.S in 2011 and it’s possible that production of an American version of the next-generation Golf could start there. Until that point, it’s likely that sales will be halted in the US.

Monday 16 June 2008

New Car: 2009 Vauxhall/Opel Insignia sedan

The Vauxhall/Opel Insignia will make its world debut at the London motorshow. The Insignia replaces the important Vectra in the European line-up. The Insignia is designed for Europe with the UK being the most important market.

In order to rival the Honda Accord, Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and Renault Laguna, the interior materials have been greatly improved over its predecessor to offer a more upmarket, executive feel to the overall vehicle.

In the pipeline is a hatchback which will be released after the sedan, followed by a station wagon and VXR variant in 2009. It is possible, in 2010 a coupe variant could also be on the drawing board, which could revive the name Calibra.

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