Wednesday 28 October 2009

New Car: 2010 Toyota SAI

The Toyota SAI is the latest entry into Toyota’s ever growing family of hybrids.

Launched at the Tokyo motorshow, the long rumoured SAI, which at one point was being considered for Europe, slots in above the Prius as Toyota’s new 2.4 litre, front-drive hybrid saloon.

Essentially, a reworked version of the Lexus HS250h that’s already on sale in the U.S and Japan, SAI has the same overall profile with those long, sloping A and C pillars and broad shoulder lines running along the top of the doors, but is 4 inches shorter and 70kgs lighter than the HS 250h. The SAI gets a revised front fascia, rear doors and windows. The interior includes redesigned air vents, gauges and steering wheel.

Power comes from the same 2.4-litre hybrid system as the HS. This sees the 2.4 litre VVT-i 4 cylinder engine, with 150bhp (now with Atkinson cycle) team up with an electric motor and reduction gear, with nickel-metal hydride battery pack mounted beneath the boot floor. Combined power is rated at 187bhp. However, although it’s smaller and lighter, the SAI achieves the exact 56-65mpg as the plusher HS250h in Japan’s economy cycle, while C02 is an equally low at 101-107g/km.

Inside, the SAI is more dull and plainer than its HS 250h counterpart. Sales start in December with prices starting at ¥3,380,000 (£24,000/$37,275). Standard equipment includes a 10 speaker sound system w/ retractable LCD touch screen and HDD navigation, leather interior w/ heated front seats and memory, wood & leather steering wheel, x4 electric windows, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and more.

2010 Lexus HS 250h

Toyota fails to meet Prius demand

Buyers of  the all-new Prius are facing waiting times of upto 9 months in Japan as the company struggles to keep up with demand for the car.

The Tsutsumi plant in Japan, the only producer of Priuses worldwide, has a global backlog of 100,000 cars as demand for the new hybrid outstrips supply.

Latest sales figures show that 1 in 10 cars currently sold in Japan is a Prius. In the UK, Toyota is quoting a wait of 10 weeks for a new Prius.

In related news, Toyota is planning a Prius coupe to go head to head with the Honda CR-Z.

The sleek, sporting hybrid is expected to be part of a Prius family, which would also include an MPV that could line up against a hybrid production version of the Honda Skydeck. Honda is keen to regain its footing in the hybrid market and Toyota, which was understood to have ditched the idea of expanding the Prius range, has been urged to respond.

The Prius coupe would use the same 1.8 litre VVT-i hybrid powertrain and chassis as the hatch version with 134bhp. A more aerodynamic body and possible weight saving would bring slight improvements to the 10.4sec sprint to 60mph and 110mph top speed.

"Lexus LFA is a monster" - Honda CEO

Hondas CEO, Takanobu Ito loves the sound of his own voice. After calling Hyundai 'awesome', the CEO has now bashed the forthcoming Lexus LFA. The supercar has been branded 'a monster' by the new chief of rival firm Honda, Takanobu Ito.

The supercar was unveiled at the Tokyo motorshow last week. It's powered by a new 4.8 litre V10 that develops more than 550bhp. The top speed is quoted at more than 200mph. It goes on sale in 2011 for £343,000 and just 500 will be made. 17 orders have been made in the UK but only 2 are serious buyers. Europe's only Lexus LFA dealership will be on Park Lane, London. In total, Toyota UK has predicted it will sell 17 cars which will be built in two batches for delivery in 2011 and 2012.

However, Ito, who worked on Honda's last supercar the NSX, isn't impressed. 'I would love to see us develop another one [supercar], possibly as a green supercar,' said Ito. 'If we do – and it is a big if – it would not look like the monster that Toyota has announced.'

Ito also hinted that a hydrogen fuel cell powered supercar could be on the cards deep into the future. "It would be lighter than a petrol car, be fun to drive and has maximum torque from zero rpm," he said.

Honda’s boss also canned speculation he was planning to bring the company’s luxury brand Acura to Europe. "The economic crash forced us to change our plans, it’s not coming for the time being and I don’t know when it will," he admitted.

Ito also restated the company’s plans to broaden its range of hybrids. He revealed plans for twin motor hybrids for cars larger than a Civic and committed the company to continue its development of petrol and diesel engines to go with them.

The long term goal for Honda though is to have a range of hydrogen fuel cell cars, but conceded that they would not be common place for at least two decades.

Motorshow: 2009 Tokyo motorshow

The recent Tokyo motorshow was home to mainly domestic car makers, since international automakers like Hyundai pulled out.

Honda revealed the production-looking e:S city-car. It'll do 70mpg combined through it's 660cc petrol-engine, mated to a automatic transmission. Stop/start technology is used to achieve superb fuel economy, alongside an overall weight of 700kg.

At the Toyota stand was the FT-86 which hinted at a forthcoming sports coupe from both Toyota & Subaru. Internal sources at Toyota suggest the coupe will go into production in 2011 using the "Celica" nameplate. Toyota's sporty & luxury division, Subaru is already running prototypes of the new coupe will goes on sale in late 2010.

Via Autobild

Saturday 24 October 2009

2011 Volkswagen Up! spied, first spy photos

Volkswagen's forthcoming city-car seems to be Up! and ready for production as it begins roaming around in public. The mule - with shortened front and rear overhangs was caught in the Austrian Alps undergoing chassis testing in its very early stages of development, using a previous Polo supermini to hide the newcomer. Judging by the wheelbase of the mule, the new Up! will provide a very spacious interior in a short body.

VW has suggested the production car will keep much of the styling from the concept that debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt motorshow, so expect Golf-inspired headlights and a compact but practical design. Unlike the rear-engined, rear-wheel- drive concept, the final Up! will use a front-engined, front-wheel-drive layout.

Inside, the 4 seat arrangement will allow buyers to fold the 3 passenger seats flat or remove them. The dash will be revolutionary, incorporating digital touchscreens. The hi-tech feel continues under the skin as VW engineers are developing a choice of ecological two cylinder petrol and diesel engines for the car. Both will be turbocharged, with a capacity of around 600cc. They promise remarkable fuel economy of 94mpg combined and CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km. A more powerful 1.2 litre petrol engine may also be offered.

Volkswagen announced back in 2007 that it is very serious about producing the Up! in India, in order to cut back on costs, however, manufacturing in Bratislava, Slovakia hasn't been ruled out. If the Up! was built in India, it could only cost VW a mere €900 to produce.

Western Europeans will receive plusher models as it will be marketed as a must-have accessory, similar to that of the Toyota iQ and Smart ForTwo, while Eastern Europeans will see it as a cheap, reliable runabout. The Up! is likely to masure at 3.45 metres with the Space Up! measuring at 3.6 metres. The E-Up! measures at 3.2 metres.

Although the official name hasn’t been decided, Lupo could be used instead of Up!. Prices are expected to start from £7,500 when the city-car goes on sale sometime in Spring 2011. Aside the E-Up!, which is expected to go on sale in 2013, a 5dr and the "Space Up!" mini-MPV variants should also be in the pipeline.

Volkswagen Up! concept:

Volkswagen Space Up!:

Volkswagen E-Up! concept:

Win the very first 2010 Jaguar XJ sedan (UK)

Updated: 16/11/09

Jaguar is putting the first production XJ up for auction to try and raise £1m for the NSPCC. The 2010 Jaguar XJ comes in Protfolio trim with the firms 3.0 litre diesel engine in short-wheel-base. Standard features include electric panoramic glass sunroof, 20" Kasuga alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlamps with LED day-time-running lights w/ washers, 1,200w Bowers & Wilkins sound system, 20 way adjustable leather ventilated seats with massage function, heated steering wheel, 4 zone climate control and a reversing camera.

The Jaguar Prize Competition will cost £125 per entry with no limit to the amount of entries allowed per person. The money raised will go towards the NSPCC’s helplines, including ChildLine.

Esther Rantzen is backing prize competition. "Our new online ChildLine service gives children even more choice in how they seek our help. Children can now text and chat to a ChildLine counsellor at as well as phone on 0800 1111. However, there is much still to be done before we can be there for all children. The Jaguar Prize Competition takes us one step further to raising the funds we need to do this.

Geoff Cousins, managing director of Jaguar UK said: “To help give more children the support they need, Jaguar, a long-standing supporter of the NSPCC, is giving away the very first customer ready car to be produced.

“This is a unique chance to own the first XJ, help raise funds for the Child's Voice appeal and ensure even more calls are answered."

The competition runs to 25th November, with the winner being announced on 1st December. To enter, click here. Video can be viewed here.

Press Release:

Jaguar is offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win the first new Jaguar XJ when it rolls off the production line later this year. This all-new luxury saloon, worth more than £62,000, is Jaguar's flagship model and will launch in showrooms in the New Year.

The Jaguar Prize Competition aims to raise £1m for the NSPCC’s helplines. It will cost £125 per entry and there is no limit to the number of entries per person.

The NSPCC is running a three year Child's Voice Appeal to raise £50m for its helplines. The money will help grow ChildLine so it can answer every call, text and e-mail from children. It will also go toward developing the NSPCC helpline for adults worried about a child.

Geoff Cousins, Managing Director of Jaguar UK said: “To help give more children the support they need, Jaguar, a long-standing supporter of the NSPCC, is giving away the very first customer ready car to be produced. Our new Jaguar XJ is a blend of stunning design, intuitive technology and innovative thinking - this is a unique chance to own the first one, help raise funds for the Child's Voice appeal – and ensure even more calls are answered."

Sleek, sporting and sophisticated, the all-new Jaguar XJ brings a daring new spirit to automotive luxury - it offers a seductive mix of striking design, breathtaking performance and engineering without compromise. The all-new XJ's cabin is a marvel in its own right, blending elegant, contemporary design with the comfort, luxury and unmistakable sporting style of a Jaguar.

NSPCC director of communications John Grounds said: "Today we are also launching a new online ChildLine service which gives children even more choice in how they seek our help. Children can now text and chat to a ChildLine counsellor as well as phone in.

“However, there is much still to be done before we can be there for all children. The Jaguar Prize Competition takes us one step further to raising the funds we need to do this.”

The competition runs until 25th November and the winner will be announced on 1st December. Entrants must correctly answer three questions about the new Jaguar XJ to be in for a chance to win the car. Enter here.

About the Child’s Voice Appeal:

The government has pledged £30m over four years towards the expansion of ChildLine and the NSPCC Helpline, but the NSPCC needs the support of the public to raise a further £50m through the Child’s Voice Appeal, to make its vision to answer many more cries for help a reality. Everyone can support the Child’s Voice Appeal. To date the appeal has raised £19.1m

The all-new XJ also takes a new approach to sustainable motoring. Constructed using Jaguar’s lightweight body technology, the XJ is lighter than its rivals by at least 150kg which significantly improves performance, handling and economy, while delivering increased strength, refinement and safety.

The winner will take delivery of the Jaguar XJ a week before the car goes on sale in January. The Jaguar XJ being offered is a short-wheelbase 3.0-litre diesel Portfolio model, worth more than £62,000. The new Jaguar XJ will be launched in the UK in January 2010 and the car donated by Jaguar is the first customer-ready car off the production line.

The Jaguar XJ range starts at £52,500.

Safety warnings advised during clock changes (UK)

Drivers and pedestrians are being advised to take extra care on the roads this weekend as the clocks go back to signal the end of British Summer Time (BST).

The sun will be setting an hour earlier from Sunday 25th October, which means that children will soon be making their way home in the dark.

Peter Rodger, chief examiner at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, warned: 'The period between late afternoon and early evening – the time when most casualties happen will be in darkness.'

Drivers are told to turn on their lights before it's fully dark and to take particular care where children may be on the streets between 4pm and 6pm.

Children are being urged to 'Be Bright, Be Seen' by the Department for Transport in a road safety campaign launched today.

Last year, 867 children, aged six to 11, were killed or seriously injured on the UK's roads. Children are advised to wear bright or fluorescent clothing in the daytime and reflective clothing if they venture out after dark.

There's substantial evidence that fewer people would be killed and seriously injured on Britain's roads if the country were to put the clocks forward by one hour throughout the year, according to a report published yesterday by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

It recommended that the Department for Transport (DfT) looks again at changing current policy. The new system where clocks would be put one hour ahead of GMT in Winter and two hours ahead in Summer, has been dubbed 'Single Double Summer Time' (SDST).

A DfT spokesperson said: 'A wide range of issues would have to be taken into account if a move to SDST was to be considered, of which casualty savings is just one.

For example, any changes to Britain's time zone would need to have full regard to the positive and negative effects on business and transport links with other countries; health and safety issues; and on social community life.'

For those of you that are living in Blighty, the clock will go back at 2am Sunday morning.

Thursday 22 October 2009

Ford owners discard most litter, BMW and Citroen owners come 2nd & 3rd (UK)

Ford drivers drop the most rubbish from cars, according to a report issued by Keep Britain Tidy (KBT).

Of the 6,500 littering incidents recorded by KBT since July, 1,262 were reported to have involved Ford drivers. BMW drivers came out as the second worst offenders, with 318 reports, while Citroen drivers came third with 211 reports.

Regional variations were also significant, with 1,289 reports from the South East and 1,252 from the North West – but just 668 from the West Midlands.

The most common items discarded from cars were cigarette butts and fast food wrappers. Nearly 2,000 bags of rubbish are dumped every day on Britain's roads, according to KBT.

KBT says litter-lout drivers should get a one-point endorsement on their licence, a move that it claims is backed by 81% of people in the UK.

Dickie Felton, from KBT, said: 'Our research tells us the only way to stop some motorists from littering is with the threat of points on their licence and a fine.

We're talking to the Government to try and make it see how big a problem this is.'

A Ford spokesman said: 'We are obviously disappointed to see our customers implicated in this way. However, because Ford has been the market leader in the UK for 30 years, there are many more Fords on the road than any other brand, therefore you would expect Ford to be at the top of any survey carried out in this way.'

"Hyundai is awesome" - Honda CEO

Honda’s CEO, Takanobu Ito has said he sees Korean manufacturer, Hyundai as a huge threat to the future of Japanese automakers.

The Korean firm has seen strong sales growth across the world in the last few years and it is currently the top selling manufacturer in the UK for retail sales.

“Hyundai is awesome,” said Takanobu. “They are undoubtedly a threat because their products are cheap, and the quality is improving.”

Hyundai and its sister firm Kia have been successful across Europe and America in various scrappage incentive schemes. Models such as the i10 city-car, i20 supermini and i30 small family car have proven extremely popular in Europe. The Accent, Elantra and Veracruz have been very popular across North America.

Takanobu’s comments have also been echoed by designer Shiro Nakamura from Nissan.

“Hyundai is the biggest threat for the Japanese automakers. They have the technology but they seem to have cheaper labour.”
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