Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Mercedes to shift C-Class production to U.S?

Several car firms have shifted production to the United States in the past few years to avoid rising labour costs and exchange rates and Mercedes could be expanding that initiative. According to the latest reports out of Germany, Mercedes-Benz in mulling shifting some C-Class production to the U.S.

Mercedes is considering moving some production of its popular C-Class to the United States. If the plan is approved, production of the C-Class would shift from Sindelfingen, Germany to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, presumably at the company’s current M-Class facility. Mercedes’ is considering the shift due to lower wages rates at the Alabama plant. The move would also help safeguard Mercedes’ profits against unfavorable Dollar to Euro exchange rates.

Mercedes has yet to confirm the report – only saying that “there is neither a decision nor a recommendation on C-Class location politics” – but rumors suggest the 4 door, 2 door and wagon variants of the C-Class could be built at the Alabama plant, with the latter likely for export.

No word on when the shift might occur, but the Mercedes SL-Class would likely fill the C-Class' spot at the Sindelfingen plant.

News in brief

GM cancels plans to build unibody pick up trucks - Via Insideline

Russian built Nissans due in 2012 - Via Autocar
2010 Lexus ES sedan pricing announced - Via

Electric Rolls-Royce Phantom under consideration - Via WorldCarFans

Opel workers in Spain take to the streets to protest - Via Autocar

Office of Fair Trading (OFT) launched an inquiry into second hand cars (UK) - Via MSN UK

Turkey investigates pricing fix - Via Autocar

Audi RS6 V10 set to be replaced by twin-turbo V8 - Via WorldCarFans

Protesters dump manure on Clarksons lawn (UK) - Via Autotrader UK

Land Rover Defender replacement due in 2012 - Via Autocar

Ploue "Peugeots have lost their beauty" - Via Autocar

Uninsured? Say good-bye to your car (UK) - Via WhatCar?

Vauxhall Astra pricing announced (UK) - Via Autocar

Mexcian buyers get more incentives (MX) - Via

Saturday, 26 September 2009

New Car: 2010 Fiat Panda

In order to keep the Panda fresh and up-to-date, Fiat has decided to revised their ever-popular city-car. On the outside, all 2010 Panda adopt the more contemporary body coloured grille found on all variants, excluding the entry-level Active models. In addition to the revised bumpers, new alloy wheel designs, larger exterior mirrors and silver trim finish for the roof bars are now available. Fiat has also added four new exterior colours to the lineup.

Inside, the instrument panel gets fresh graphics while there's also a new selection of upholstery colours.

Mechanically,  improvements are limited to the 1.2 litre petrol engine that now has 69bhp, up from 60bhp and now emits 113g/km CO2, down from 133g/km (eco model emits 119g/km). This same engine is found in the Fiat 500 and Ford KA city-cars. The Panda 4x4 should also have lower CO2 emissions, compared to the 155g/km from the current model. In Europe, Panda buyers have a wide choice of petrol, diesel, natural gas and LPG engines with outputs ranging from 54bhp to 100bhp. Both manual and Dualogic semi-automatic transmissions will also be available. The UK will only get the 2 former engines.

The Panda was launched in September 2003. In the 6 years it has been in production, Fiat has sold more than 1.5 million units of the city-car.

Fuel economy & low taxation top precedence for car buyers (UK)

Fuel consumption and low tax are moving up the priority list for car buyers, according to a new report by British Car Auctions.

In the BCA's Used Car Market Report published this week motorists were asked what sort of car they would buy once the recession is over and the green shoots of recovery have really taken hold. Responses suggest that, even in a more optimistic economic climate, the majority of car owners are planning to remain prudent.

Although 19% of motorists intend to buy 'the same type of car' next time, a third of car buyers will be looking for 'better fuel consumption' and a fifth for 'lower road tax'. This move to save money is underlined by a wish list of 'lower CO2', 'lower maintenance costs' and a 'smaller car'- rounded off by driving a harder bargain on the 'part-exchange value'.

14% of respondents who previously brought new were considering buying a used car next time. Wealthier car buyers are more likely to focus on 'lower CO2' and 'lower depreciation' than others, while older car buyers will generally settle for the status quo when their next car change comes round.

BCA's Tim Naylor said: 'The combination of the recession and high fuel prices has made motorists become a little 'greener' in their outlook. It seems the issues of better fuel consumption, lower CO2 emissions and more affordable road tax will come to the fore when deciding what car to buy next.' 

'Only 22% said they were influenced by the test drive. Despite the fact that this is a significant financial outlay, it seems that car buyers act on their heart rather than their head much of the time. And that can end up with some expensive decisions!'

Monday, 21 September 2009

Fiat reaches 130g/km CO2 limit 6 years early (EU)

Fiat has become the first manufacturer in Europe to reduce its average CO2 emissions from new cars sold to below 130g/km, six years earlier than the Europe-wide goal set by the EU. All car manufactures must have an average CO2 output of 130g/km or less by 2015, otherwise heavy fines will be handed out. Fiat’s average CO2 emissions from cars sold in Europe in the first half of 2009 were 129.1g/km, according to figures released by automotive advisory leader JATO. The Italian firm was ahead of Toyota, which had average CO2 emissions of 132g/km and Peugeot, which had average emissions of 134.5g/km.

It has achieved this figure partly due to the success of its LPG-powered vehicles, of which it has sold 65,000 units across Europe so far this year. The average CO2 emissions of these cars was 115.8g/km. Lorenzo Sistino, CEO of Fiat Automobiles, said: "Improving the environment is not a goal for the future, but something we can do right away.

"New engines are being introduced – like the innovative Multiair technology on petrol engines, making them capable of guaranteeing up to 10% lower CO2 emissions and the new generation of common-rail Multijet diesel engines that will make their debut on the Punto Evo and that will be gradually adopted on all of our group’s cars."

Europe's top ten manufacturers for low CO2 emissions:

1. Fiat - 129.1 g/km

2. Toyota - 132.9 g/km

3. Peugeot 134.5 g/km

4. Citroen - 138.1 g/km

5. Renault - 138.9 g/km

6. Ford - 140.4 g/km

7. Vauxhall/Opel - 149.5 g/km

8. VW - 152.5 g/km

9. Audi - 162.6 g/km

10. Mercedes - 178.8 g/km

Chevrolet Cruze gets new diesel engine (UK)

While the Cruze is gaining popularity, Chevrolet has added a new diesel engine to the range. The 123bhp 2.0 litre turbo-diesel can shift the Cruze from 0-60mph in 10.3 seconds with a top speed of 122mph. Its CO2 emissions are 145g/km and has a combined fuel economy of 51.4mpg.

Available in 2 specifications, in entry-level S trim, the Cruze gets air conditioning, electronic stability control (ESC), CD player, front electric windows, central locking and electrically adjustable & heated door mirrors.

The higher-spec LS gets 16 inch alloy wheels, chrome front grille surround, rear parking sensors, steering wheel mounted audio controls and leather steering wheel & gearknob.

The Cruze starts from £13,745 in S trim and rises to £14,345 in LS trim. It is on sale now.

Mazda2 confirmed for Stateside (U.S/CA)

Mazda North America has confirmed that the Mazda2 will be sold for the first time in the United States and Canada beginning in late 2010.

Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations, told a dealer at a meeting: "We've been studying the market to make sure we can make a business case for it across North America. As consumers' tastes and attitudes toward small vehicles have changed, we now believe strongly there is a place in our lineup for a car below our current least-expensive car, the Mazda3." He said the Mazda2 will be "stylish, fun to drive and a heck of a value."

Final North American specs will be released at the 2009 Los Angeles motorshow. It's likely that the 5dr hatchback and 4dr sedan will be available. UK specification cars get electrically adjustable, heated & folding door mirrors, front & rear electric windows, halogen headlamps, front fog lights, body colour bumpers, door handles & mirrors, alloy wheels, cruise control w/ steering wheel mounted audio controls, 6 speakers, height adjustable leather steering wheel, height adjustable drivers seat and 6 airbags with ESP. We can expect U.S cars to have similar spec, if not, more. The Mazda2, which shares its B-Segment architecture with the Ford Fiesta, was named 2008 World Car Of The Year.

Press Release:

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Mazda North American Operations' president and CEO, Jim O'Sullivan, confirmed today during a meeting of the company's top dealers that the MAZDA2 subcompact, or B-Car classification, car will be sold in the U.S. beginning in late 2010. It was previously announced that the car also will be sold in Canada, beginning at about the same time.

"You've asked us for it for a while now, and we've been studying the market to make sure we can make a business case for it across North America," O'Sullivan told the assembled dealers. "As consumers' tastes and attitudes toward small vehicles have changed, we now believe strongly there is a place in our lineup for a car below our current least-expensive car, the MAZDA3. MAZDA2 will be true to everything that makes our cars stand apart from the competition: it will be stylish, fun-to-drive and a heck of a value. In short, it will be Zoom-Zoom."

No further details were released at the meeting, other than notice that the final North American-specification MAZDA2 will be unveiled to media and the public at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show. Further information on specifications, content, pricing and on-sale timing will be provided closer to launch.

MAZDA2 has been a sales and media success in markets around the world, winning more than 50 awards and being named Car of the Year in more than 20 separate countries. Additionally, MAZDA2 was named the 2008 World Car of the Year, besting all other new cars around the world.

Celebrating its 40th Anniversary in the United States in 2010, Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.

Scrappage scheme set to extended (UK)

With growing pressure from automotive magazines, comsumers and journalists, The UK’s scrappage incentive scheme could be extended to the end of February 2010. The car makers' trade body, the SMMT, has met business secretary Lord Mandelson to submit a formal application for an extension, following an endorsement from motor manufacturers.

“Consumer confidence is still weak and recovery remains extremely fragile,” said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt. “Avoiding a relapse in demand is critical to the UK economy and an extension to the scrappage incentive scheme, which has already proven its credentials as a cost-effective support mechanism, will ensure a more stable outlook for vehicle demand.”

The £300m of Government money alloted to keep the scheme afloat until next March is set to run out this October - five months early. An extension of the scheme would cost an estimated £250m extra of Government money, although additional VAT payments would offset this.

Lord Mandelson is believed to be willing to listen the industry's request because of the success of the current scheme, although a spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform said there are "currently no plans to extend the scheme".

The car industry is lobbying hard for the scheme's extension because it is concerned that next January's VAT rise will otherwise knock sales. Under the UK car scrappage scheme a £2,000 incentive is paid to motorists who scrap cars registered before 31 August 1999 to buy a new car. The Government contributes £1,000 and the remaining amount comes from the dealers and manufacturers.

In August, UK new car sales were up 6% on 2008 levels but 2009 sales to date are 21.5% down on last year.

Manufacturers have warned against the sudden removal of scrappage. John Fleming, chairman of Ford Europe, told the BBC: “We've been very happy and very grateful that Governments, particularly Germany and the UK, have put scrappage schemes into place.

“We're worried that it's going to stop very abruptly. So what we'd like to see is it extended for a period of time.”

Tadashi Arashima, president of Toyota Europe, said: “We need some help until the first half of 2010.” Carlos Ghosn, Renault chief executive, said that winding down the scrappage schemes gradually was the "best way".

"Some countries are going to stop it brutally,” said Ghosn. "In these cases, it may be a bit bumpy." The German scrappage scheme, which has been the most successful so far, ended earlier this month, but a similar scheme in France has been extended.

A Hyundai spokesman said the company supported an extension of scrappage, warning against stopping the scheme suddenly. "If the tap is turned off there are manufacturers and dealers who will find that very hard."

Scrappage scheme facts to date:

Over 100,000 new vehicles have been registered under the scrappage scheme with an order book of a further 100,000 suggesting the scheme will run out of funding in late October/early November.

One fifth of the cars registered were either built in the UK or have an engine produced here.

The scrappage scheme is largely self-funding, with the 15% VAT paid on a car bought for £7,650 covering the £1,000 Government contribution.

76% of cars bought under the scrappage are superminis.

Ford, whose engine plants in Bridgend and Dagenham employ 4,000 people, has introduced extra shifts triggered by the increase in demand from European scrappage schemes. August output was up 36.5% at Dagenham and 18.3% at Bridgend compared with 2008. Ford estimates that this has resulted in a positive knock-on effect for around 100,000 of their UK jobs in the sales, distribution and supply chain.

Nissan has said that production of the UK-built Micra and Note has increased by an additional 33,000 units due to scrappage.

In August and September, Toyota cancelled workshare to fulfil orders created by the UK and European scrappage schemes. Toyota plans to return to the workshare arrangements in October.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Motorshow: 2009 IAA Frankfurt Motorshow

This years Frankfurt motorshow saw world-wide debuts of the Kia Venga, Bentley Mulsanne, Citroen C3 & DS3, BMW X1, Dodge Caliber facelift, Fiat Punto Evo, Ford C-Max & Grand C-Max, Hyundai Santa Fe facelift, Lexus LS & GS facelift, Mazda3 MPS and the Skoda Superb Estate, just to name a few.

The new C3 is Citroen’s contender in the mainstream supermini market. Distinctive styling is a major part of its appeal, but the C3 is attractively green, too. The cleanest C3 will have a 90bhp 1.6 litre diesel engine and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km when it goes on sale early next year, but Citroen plans to add further models that emit just 95 and 90g/km during 2010.

Engines with start-stop systems and automated manual gearboxes will be fitted throughout the range, and Citroen has worked hard to ensure that the new car is no bulkier or heavier than the one it replaces, despite providing more space and equipment.

'We introduced a penalty system on our suppliers if they didn't reach our weight targets,' a Citroen spokesman said.

The initial C3 engine line-up will be 1.1, 1.4 and 1.6 litre petrol engines and 1.4 and 1.6 litre turbo-diesels, delivering between 70bhp and 120bhp, but the 1.1 litre unit will have 'a short life', according to a Citroen spokesman. New low CO2 emitting 1.0 and 1.2 litre petrol engines are coming as well, which will help make Citroen's emissions targets of 95- and 90g/km feasible.

As with the present C3, only five-door models will be available. If you want a three-door, take a look at the DS3 on the stand. There is a new rear suspension system for both, mounted on subframes to isolate road noise.

Citroen says it designed the C3 with the principle that 'customers no longer talk about the distances they cover, but the amount of time they spend in the car'.

'Customers were changing even before the financial crisis started. Superminis were becoming the first choice for many. We had to put right the weaknesses of today's C3. Anyway, as a company, we are too attached to innovation to copy and paste the current car.'

There has been a big push to improve quality and style, and to make the cabin roomier, more airy and sophisticated. The trim materials and design give the new car far more class than the current model and thinner seat and dashboard structures improve space, while allowing the car to remain less than four metres long. A 'zenith' windscreen which stretches back over the roof is a distinctive design element. It lets more light into the cabin, but also shields it from heat.

Citroen says it will use the Ford Fiesta as a pricing benchmark, which would suggest a starting price of a little under £10,000. The new C3 will go on sale in the UK in Spring 2010.

Picture galleries can be seen here, here and here.
Via AutoBild

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Hyundai Genesis, Genesis Coupe and Equus under European consideration (EU)

U.S spec Genesis Coupe
Hyundai is putting its Genesis Coupe through the final stages of technical evaluation before deciding whether to put it into production for the European markets.

The rear-wheel drive coupe has long been awaited for a European launch but a final decision has yet to be taken. The mid-sized Genesis and large Equus sedans are also under consideration for a UK launch.

European vice president Allan Rushforth said: “The final stages of testing are currently being undertaken on the Genesis Coupe. We will be making a final decision on whether to launch it in Europe within the next month.”

Rushforth is keen for the Genesis Coupe to be properly suited to European driving tastes and, in particular, the UK’s.

“If you want to get noticed with a new product in Europe, the best way to do this is in the UK,” he said. “If the Genesis Coupe goes get launched then it would be left-hand drive markets getting it first, but never say never to a UK launch. There would be a big market for it over here.”

Rushforth said Hyundai is yet to test its cars on UK roads but this would change if more specialist vehicles such as the Genesis Coupe, Genesis saloon and Equus were launched.

“Hyundai recognises that it is important to set up a car properly for UK roads due to their general bad quality,” he said.

“I’m not worried about this for the i models as they are pretty durable but when you are talking more specialised rear-drive models such as the Genesis Coupe, then you have to pay close attention to ride and handling. UK buyers like big wheels and firm suspension, two factors which affect ride quality.

“Our technical team would make sure any specialist model would ride properly on UK roads.”

Rushforth said if the Genesis Coupe were given the go-ahead, it would potentially go into production by September 2010. After a decision is made on it, then the attention will turn to the Equus and Genesis saloon, which are at a less advanced stage of technical evaluation.

One Hyundai source said the case for a Genesis Coupe launch in the UK could be made stronger by similar demand for the car in Australia. Both are right-hand drive markets.

“Whereas Europe would get the 4 pot 2.0 litre petrol engine, Australia and the UK would be more interested in the 3.8 litre V6 petrol which suddenly gives the Genesis Coupe more of a market case,” said the source. However, Hyundai's current coupe, the Coupe III was sold with a 2.7 litre V6 engine which got axed earlier this year.

Lotus could be used to fine-tune the three car’s ride and handling should a European or UK launch be confirmed. Hyundai will also launch a replacement for the Coupe III, primarily for the European market.

New Car: 2010 Citroen C-Crosser/Peugeot 4007

The Citroen C-Crosser has been facelifted, getting a revised interior, a cleaner diesel engine and the option of a dual clutch gearbox.

The new six-speed gearbox has been mated to the revised 154bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine, and is available at the VTR+ and Exclusive trim levels.

The gearbox can be used as a manual and automatic, with paddle-shifts located behind the steering wheel. Drivers can select a 'Sport' mode to speed up changes.

The automatic version averages 38.7mpg and emits 192g/km of CO2, while the manual does 40.4mpg and emits 185g/km.

The interior modifications include an updated dashboard with new chrome inserts and vents, while automatic wipers are now standard across the range. Bluetooth connectivity will also be standard on Exclusive trim models.

Peugeot has added a six-speed dual clutch semi-automatic gearbox to its 4007 SUV. In the Peugeot 4007 DCS, it will be mated to a 156bhp 2.2 litre diesel engine, with combined fuel consumption of 38.7mpg and CO2 emissions 192g/km.

With the dual clutch system the 4007 DCS can be operated as an auto’ or manually with gear shifts delivered via steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

The new semi-automatic gearbox is available on the seven seat SE and GT versions of the 4007, which will be distinguished from manual models by new rear twin exhausts. Inside revisions are also being made across the 4007 range including a new LCD screen and changes to the trim around the instruments.

Prices aren't changing, so expect to pay £23,345 for both SUV's.

Peugeot RCZ pricing announced (UK)

Peugeot has revealed the price of its new RCZ coupe. Prices start from £19,900 for the base 1.6 litre THP manual 156 model and rise to £24,000 for the flagship 2.0 HDi 163 manual.

Entry-level features include 18" alloy wheels, front sports seats, dual zone air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, four airbags, alarm w/ immobiliser, double bubble rear windscreen, ESP, EBFD, EBA, ABS, rear spoiler and twin sports exhaust.

The second trim level will adds leather seats w/ heated function, front parking sensors, auto-tilting door mirrors (when in reverse), floor mats, automatic lights, follow-me-home lighting, automatic windscreen wipers, 19" wheels.

A range of options will be available, like re-styled 19" wheels, a carbon roof panel, sat-nav, xenon headlamps, black roof arches and a JBL hi-fi pack.

The full price list is as follows:

Trim level 1 -

1.6 litre THP 156 Manual - £19,900
1.6 litre THP 156 Automatic - £21,000
2.0 HDi 163 Manual - £21,700

Trim level 2 -

1.6 litre THP 156 Manual - £22,200
1.6 litre THP 156 Automatic - £23,300
1.6 litre THP 200 Manual - £24,500
2.0 litre HDi 163 Manual - £24,000

Expect the production RCZ to include similar features to the concept – a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine from the 207 GTi and a six-speed gearbox. This shoots the RCZ from 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 146mph. Despite its power, this engine can also manage an average fuel economy of 42.2mpg. Its CO2 emissions are estimated at 160g/km, placing the car into tax band G at £150 per year. Peugeot describes the RCZ as “an exclusive vehicle which is full of emotion and aimed at enthusiasts.”

A spokesperson said the production RCZ could be heavier than the concept 308. This is because concept cars don’t usually include many of the road-going features such as sound-proofing and interior styling.

The RCZ is Peugeot’s first car not to use a zero or double-zero in its name. Peugeot say this “symbolises its special and unique position within the Peugeot range.”

It will showcase the coupe in its final form at the 2009 Frankfurt motorshow, which begins on 15th September. UK launch will happen in Spring 2010.

The car will go on sale in spring 2010. Its rivals include the Audi TT, BMW Z4 and the forthcoming Honda CR-Z.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Kia Forte Koup pricing announced (U.S)

Kia USA has released full pricing on the Forte Koup. Kicking off at $17,290 ($16,595 + $695 destination fee) for the entry-level EX with a 156bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine coupled to a five speed manual gearbox.

Those looking for more power can opt for the Koup SX that comes with a 2.4-litre producing 174bhp which is mated to a 6 speed manual and has a sportier suspension set up. Prices for the SX begin from $18,390 including delivery fees.

If you prefer not to change gears manually, there's a five-speed automatic transmission that will cost you an extra $1,000 on both the EX and SX.

Mazda3 MPS pricing announced (UK)

Mazda UK has announced pricing for the all-new Mazda3 MPS that goes on sale Thursday 1st October. The hot hatch is being marketed in the UK in a single trim level with pricing set at £21,500 OTR including mica or metallic paint finish.

Based on the second generation Mazda3, the 3 MPS is powered by a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-pot that makes 260bhp and 380Nm or 280 lb-ft of torque and drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. The Japanese firm announces a 0 to 62mph sprint time of 6.1seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

Standard features include Bluetooth technology, surround-sound BOSE premium audio system with 10 speakers w/ steering wheel mounted audio controls, front bucket sports seats, electrically adjustable/heated and folding door mirrors, xenon headlamps, MID (multi information display) with a compact satellite navigation system that uses a high-resolution 11cm (4.1 inch) screen mounted in the dashboard's upper section and automatic dual zone climate control air conditioning.

GM - The Volt isn't a car for idiots

General Motors has responded to Audi of America’s boss Johan de Nysschen’s claims that the Chevrolet Volt was “a car for idiots”.

Speaking to veteran American journalist Lawrence Ulrich, de Nysschen said that few customers will be prepared to pay the estimated £24,500 asking price for the Volt, which will go on sale in Europe as the Vauxhall/Opel Ampera.

"No one is going to pay a $15,000 (£9,000) premium for a car that competes with a Toyota Corolla,” said de Nysschen. "So there are not enough idiots who will buy it."

In response, GM spokesman Rob Peterson claimed the firm was surprised he had chosen to insult fellow car enthusiasts.

“Very surprised Mr de Nysschen was so quick to insult the intelligence of electric vehicle and Volt enthusiasts,” he said. “Not so surprised that Audi is taking a bold stance given their entrenched diesel position. EVs will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and tailpipe emissions – if that's being "hoodwinked by our government" then count me in.”

De Nysschen has apologised if he had been "unclear" about the fact that he isn’t opposed to electric vehicles, and said he didn't remember specifically saying the Volt is a car "idiots". Audi will unveil its own electric car concept at the Frankfurt motor show next week.

In related news, the forthcoming Vauxhall/Opel Ampera is likely to cost around £24,500 when it goes on sale in the UK in the first quarter of 2012.

Opel’s managing director Hans Demant made the claims in an interview with a Swiss news outlet, Tages-Anzeiger. Demant claimed that for the Ampera to be a commercial success, it must not cost more than a fully-specced Vauxhall Zafira with automatic transmission. The range-topping Zafira SRi 1.9 CDTi costs just shy of £25,500 when equipped with an auto’ box in the UK. This gives a hint as to how much the Ampera will cost when it goes on sale.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Audi USA president; Johan de Nysschen - The Volt is for idiots (U.S)

Audi of America president, Johan de Nysschen has dismissed General Motors Chevrolet Volt as "a car for idiots".

Speaking to veteran American journalist Lawrence Ulrich, de Nysschen said that few customers will be prepared to pay the estimated £25,000 asking price for the Volt, which will go on sale in Europe as the Vauxhall/Opel Ampera.

"No one is going to pay a $15,000 (£9,000) premium for a car that competes with a Toyota Corolla,” said de Nysschen. "So there are not enough idiots who will buy it."

De Nysschen, a long-time advocate of diesel power, admitted that plug-in hybrids are good in concept and hold advantages over diesels in stop-and-go driving. However, he maintained that electric cars are more about making a statement at present.

“They’re for the intellectual elite who want to show what enlightened souls they are,” he said.

De Nysschen concluded by saying that the Volt will fail to sell and the Government will be forced to subsidise it and boost sales, having forced GM to develop electric cars.

However, De Nysschen said in his defence:

“Let me clearly state that in my opinion, electric vehicles will be part of the future transportation of society – but only if we go about it the right way. In fact, Audi is working on electric vehicles," he said."

De Nysschen also apologised if he had been "unclear" about the fact that he isn’t opposed to electric vehicles, and said he didn't remember specifically saying the Volt is a car "idiots".

Car sales rise, city-car sales rise by 253% (UK)

With car sales rising 2.4% in July, August car sales rose 6% compared with the same month last year. The increase is the second consecutive monthly rise, after more than a year of decline in vehicle sales. Industry figures revealed that 67,006 new cars were registered during August.

The scrappage scheme is widely accepted to have prompted the boost in sales since its introduction in May. However, the scheme is expected to run out of cash by the end of the year. Most buyers have been waiting out for the '59' plate change, which changes this month. September generally yields 5 times as many sales as August. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' (SMMT) chief executive Paul Everitt said: 'The scrappage incentive scheme is having a positive impact, but with consumer and business confidence still fragile, there remain significant risks ahead.

However, the figures from the SMMT also revealed that total sales for the year so far are still 21.5% lower than for the same period last year.

'It is essential that these early signs of recovery are sustained into 2010.'

The top 10 best-selling cars for August were as follows:

1) Ford Focus - 4,366

2) Ford Fiesta - 2,968

3) Hyundai i10 - 2,431

4) Vauxhall Corsa - 2,031

5) Volkswagen Golf - 1,832

6) Peugeot 207 - 1,558

7) BMW 3 Series - 1,482

8) Vauxhall Astra - 1,355

9) Vauxhall Insignia - 1,334

10) Toyota Yaris - 1,331

The worst performers in August were:

1) Saab -91.48%

2) Bentley -75.51%

3) Lotus -58.82%

4) Porsche -43.7%

5) Jeep -36.96%

Germany has ended its scrappage scheme, but is expected to offer tax incentives instead. France will extend it's scrappage scheme until 2011, to avoid plunging car sales. The UK Government has no intention of expanding, despite the fragile state of the car industry. However, pressure from automotive magazines, car manufactures and consumers could see it expanded.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Audi A3 2.0 TDi pricing announced (U.S)

Diesel engined cars remain tough to sell in the North American market but German brands like Volkswagen, have sold clean-diesel cars sucuessfully. Volkswagen's luxury counterpart, Audi now wants to sell clean-diesels. It's introducing the new A3 TDI for the U.S market, for which the Ingolstadt-based automaker released pricing details.

Starting price for the A3 TDI with the S-tronic transmission and front-wheel drive is $29,950, excluding a delivery charge of $825.

Like the European model, the 2.0 litre TDI provides 140bhp and 236 lb-ft of torque (320 Nm). Combined fuel economy is 42 mpg U.S.

So why is it so hard for European carmakers to sell diesels in the U.S? This is to meet the stringent emissions standards that are set in each U.S state for diesel powered passenger cars. Those regulations are far more restrictive than they are for transport trucks. That coupled with the lack of availability of highly-refined (low-sulphur) diesel fuel also made selling diesels in all 50 states a challenge.

Lexus revises line-up (UK)

Lexus UK has canned the petrol-engined GS and
LS sedans, cutting the range down to hybrid models only.

The GS and LS ranges now consist of one model each – the GS450h and L600h – and Lexus will only sell the new RX as a hybrid  (it is available with the petrol V6 in the U.S).

A Lexus source described the decision as “a logical move for the company”. The IS range will remain as it is, with petrol and diesel engines available.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

New Car: 2010 Fiat Punto Evo

This is the Fiat Punto Evo, the revised version of the Grande Punto that will be displayed at this month’s Frankfurt motorshow and go on sale in the UK Spring 2010.

As well as a mild restyling, the Fiat Punto Evo gets an updated engine range that includes the innovative 1.4-litre petrol Multiair unit. The Multiair system works by allowing direct control of air and combustion in engines, cylinder by cylinder and stroke by stroke, without the use of a conventional throttle. It saves energy wasted in traditional systems, cutting fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by around 10% over a comparable standard engine, and increasing power by up to 10% and torque by up to 15%. It can also reduce particulate emissions by up to 40% and NOx emissions by up to 60%. Fiat plans to fit the technology to all its engines in coming years.

Other engines in the range include a new 1.3-litre Multijet diesel, which features a new common-rail injector that reduces consumption by around 2% and NOx emissions by 30%, plus methane and LPG units that boost the car’s eco credentials but which won’t be on sale in the UK. This emits 115g/km of CO2. Fiat is also fitting stop-start as standard on all its Euro5-compliant petrol and diesel engines.

Fiat says the interior has been completely reworked, while the exterior has been tweaked by the addition of new bumpers and light clusters. The car is slightly longer than before, at 406cm from 403cm. All other dimensions are the same.

The Punto Evo has seven airbags as standard, including a driver’s knee-bag. Options include a hill holder function to make hillstarts easier, and adaptive cornering fog lights that switch on according to the angle of steering and a new sat-nav system is also available. Called Blue&Me-TomTom, it allows the driver to manage telephone, sat-nav and information systems via a single colour touch screen.

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