Archive for September, 2009

REPORT: Fiat to close Bertone purchase this week

Filed under: , , ,



On Thursday, Fiat is expected to put its John Hancock on a preliminary agreement to close its purchase of Carrozzeria Bertone, the coachbuilding arm of the Bertone company. In August Fiat won the right to acquire the builder, and it will throw €150 million at its operations over the next three years to return it to glory... or at the least allow it to begin producing new models.

Specific vehicles haven't been mentioned, but when (if) the Bertone factory reopens in late 2011, it's expected the production center will make the car that replaces the Euro-spec 300C. As a side note, that could be interesting because the European 300C is currently built by Magna, in Austria, and if Fiat brings production in-house that would mean more contract work taken from Opel's new papa. Jeep knockdown kits could also be shipped over and built for European consumption.

The purchase gives Fiat no stake in Stile Bertone, the now independent design firm that brought out the Mantide, so don't get your hopes up about wildly styled Chrysler supercars being built in northern Italy. Yet.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

REPORT: Fiat to close Bertone purchase this week originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Sep 2009 17:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

Leave a Comment

BREAKING: Penske walks away from Saturn deal, brand to “wind down”

Filed under:



Saturn fans will be saddened to hear that the brand is about to be history. Penske Automotive Group (PAG) and General Motors have been in the final stages of negotiations to transfer the brand, but late this afternoon, both parties issued statements that Penske was walking away from the deal.

The reason cited by Penske for the deal's demise is difficulty in securing a supply of product beyond the end of 2010. GM had agreed to continue supplying the Outlook, Aura and Vue until the end of next year, at which point Penske would get other automakers to produce vehicles to sell through the Saturn dealer network.

It was originally believed that Penske had a deal with Renault, possibly supplying vehicles from its South Korean subsidiary, Renault-Samsung Motors. However, the other automaker's board of directors rejected the deal, leaving Penske out in the cold. In the wake of the news, GM announced that it would wind down Saturn and close all the dealerships. After Saturn dealers close, Saturn owners will be able to get service from other GM dealers. You can read the official statements from both Penske and GMchronicling the demise of Saturn after the jump.

[Sources: Penske Automotive Group, General Motors | Image Source: Bill Pugliano/Getty]

Continue reading BREAKING: Penske walks away from Saturn deal, brand to "wind down"

BREAKING: Penske walks away from Saturn deal, brand to "wind down" originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Sep 2009 16:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Leave a Comment

REPORT: Subaru’s Lafayette Indiana plant produces three millionth car

Filed under: , ,


2010 Subaru Outback - Click above for high-res image gallery

There's cause for celebration in Lafayette, Indiana, and it's not because the Colts are 3-0. The Indianapolis Star reports that Subaru has built its three millionth American made vehicle at its Lafayette facility; a silver Outback 2.5i. Over 9,000 workers were involved in reaching the production milestone, and nearly 3,500 workers are currently employed at the facility.

Subaru needed a longish 20 years to achieve its latest production milestone, and even then it got a hand from Toyota, since the Camry is currently being built there. Subaru's only U.S. plant had a peak production output of 216,198 back in 1998, but sagging auto sales has conspired to cut production down to an expected 158,000 this year in spite of the fact that the all-wheel drive Japanese automaker has perhaps its best lineup ever and some of the strongest sales figures industry-wide. Production could increase in the short term, though, as Cash for Clunkers has drained Subaru inventory down to 16 days worth of cars and crossovers, down from its typical 60-70 day supply. Subaru sold a record 28,863 vehicles in August.



[Source: Indianapolis Star]

REPORT: Subaru's Lafayette Indiana plant produces three millionth car originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Sep 2009 16:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Leave a Comment

Rumormill: Jaguar working on all-new five-door “coupe”

Filed under: , , , , ,


2003 Jaguar R-D6 Concept

We're not exactly sure when this trend will end, but it now looks like Jaguar is preparing to join the five-door coupe club. Inside Line is reporting that a compact hatch, similar to Audi's new A5 Sportback, is in the works. An evolution of the R-D6 concept first shown back way in 2003, it is being called the RD7, and will feature rear suicide doors and an E-Type aping side-hinged rear hatch. Now that's one heritage element that would definitely look cool, but might not be too practical - we'll have to reserve judgment until we see the final product.

As Jaguar's X-Type is finally being phased out overseas, the logic is that the Gaydon firm needs an entry-level model to compete in the compact premium segment. Apparently Jag is considering both a three-door and a five-door version of this X-Type replacement, which would most likely be built on a slimmed down XF platform. Power is rumored to come from a 2.7-liter diesel V6.

Whatever the final form of the RD7, we'll have to wait a while to see it in showrooms. Next up for Jaguar is the spiritual successor to the XK-E, which is expected some time in 2011, the 50th anniversary of the original E-Type. Cash coming in from the popular XF and the recently revealed full-size XJ might help speed things up a bit, too.


[Source: Inside Line]

Rumormill: Jaguar working on all-new five-door "coupe" originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Sep 2009 16:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Leave a Comment

Mazda Miata owners gather in Japan for 20th anniversary celebration

Filed under: , ,


Mazda MX-5 Miata 20th Anniversary Meet - Click above for high-res image gallery

Mazda celebrated the 20th anniversary of its MX-5 Miata this year at the Chicago Auto Show by bringing out various concepts and special edition models to display on the show floor. But that handful of cars was nothing compared to the event put on by Mazda last weekend that brought out 2,600 owners and 1,600 cars to celebrate the best selling roadster of all time at the Miyoshi Proving Ground in western Japan.

The day's festivities included introductions for the various clubs, an MX-5 quiz, and a 20th anniversary car that all of the attendees could sign. Bringing the event to a close was a massive parade around the track that has to have broken some sort of record. You can read the brief press release after the jump or check out the high-res gallery courtesy of Mazda below.



[Source: Mazda]

Continue reading Mazda Miata owners gather in Japan for 20th anniversary celebration

Mazda Miata owners gather in Japan for 20th anniversary celebration originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Sep 2009 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Leave a Comment

REPORT: Bob Kruse, GM’s top electric car exec and Chevy Volt pointman, steps down

Filed under: , , ,

Just a few months before the Chevrolet Volt is finally set to debut in production trim, one of the guys who spearheaded the whole project has reportedly left his post at General Motors. Bob Kruse (at right), who also helped plan the whole long-term strategy for GM's electric vehicle program, has resigned according to The Detroit News. Kruse has been the automaker's executive director of global vehicle engineering for hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries since 2008, and has long been considered one of the key figures in getting the Volt from concept to production - he was particularly instrumental in developing the batteries that the Volt will use.

The report says Kruse is leaving to start his own consulting company, E V Consulting LLC. Kruse wanted to make it clear that his departure shouldn't be read as a statement about his feelings regarding GM's future success, but he did admit that they weren't happy he was leaving.

"There's no good time to lose good people," GM spokesman Rob Peterson said. "But that said, the Volt team goes way beyond one person."

According to most sources, the rest of the team is more than capable of moving on without him and the future of the Volt is in good hands. Micky Bly - who has experience with hybrid/electric vehicles and has been a part of the Volt program from early on - has been tipped as his replacement.

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: General Motors]

REPORT: Bob Kruse, GM's top electric car exec and Chevy Volt pointman, steps down originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Sep 2009 15:42:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Leave a Comment

OMG LOL: New study says 93% of Americans favor banning text messaging while driving

Filed under: , , ,



Maybe it's not surprising that Ford commissioned a study that helps bolster a sales case for some of its in-car-electronics, but the Blue Oval seems to have its finger on the pulse of the nation this time. Market researchers Penn, Schoen & Berland polled 1,000 drivers and found that 93% of them agree with the notion of a nationwide ban on texting. Those drivers seemed to be realists, however, with only 42% believing that the same idiots who punch out communiques instead of attentively piloting their 3,500 pound projectiles would actually curtail the behavior if a ban were enacted.

Ford, of course, has a solution with its SYNC voice activation technology. Fully 76% of the respondents expressed interest in a vehicle with technology like that of the Blue Oval, which is probably the main point of the survey in the first place. It's likely safer to keep a driver looking down the road with his or her hands on the wheel instead of fiddling with a handheld, but there's still an issue of distraction when a driver's thinking more about chatting instead of steering, as many studies regarding the use of hands-free phones in automobiles have shown.

For its part, Ford has been looking into driving distractions for a long time, and technology like SYNC and MyKey are the results. There's not yet a speech-to-text function, but if a ban gets enacted, look for Dearborn to be ready with just such a system to sell you.

[Source: Motor Trend | Image: Edbrown05 via CC 2.0]

OMG LOL: New study says 93% of Americans favor banning text messaging while driving originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Sep 2009 15:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

Leave a Comment

Review: Moto Guzzi V7 Classic is an Italian beauty you can live with

Filed under: ,


Moto Guzzi V7 Classic - Click above for high-res image gallery

Every once in a while, you can tell exactly how a motorcycle will ride based solely on the initial walkaround. When the seminal Yamaha VMax hit the scene way back in 1985, one look at its muscular stance, massive V-four and spindly suspenders told you everything you needed to know about its intentions. At the other end of the spectrum, it takes just a quick glance at any modern Vespa to know if its rider is destined to be a mod or a rocker.

This odd ability to instantaneously assess a bike's virtues came again when the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic arrived on our doorstep. As you'd expect, we dove right into the nitty-gritty details as quickly as we could type its name into Google. We dissected the manual and gazed at the pictures. Then we went outside with the key clutched firmly in hand, approached the machine and promptly forgot everything we'd just spent the last few hours reading. With a bike like this, the spec sheet seems largely irrelevant and mundane; things like horsepower and torque figures really don't seem to matter. How can that be? Click past the break to find out.



Photos copyright (C)2009 Jeremy Korzeniewski / Weblogs, Inc.

Continue reading Review: Moto Guzzi V7 Classic is an Italian beauty you can live with

Review: Moto Guzzi V7 Classic is an Italian beauty you can live with originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Sep 2009 14:56:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Leave a Comment

Tokyo Preview: Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo concept ready to move your eco-friendly goods

Filed under: , , , , , ,


2009 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

Alongside its production i-MiEV people-mover, Mitsubishi will be showing another baker's dozen of new vehicles in its display at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show next month. On display will be several production cars as well as two brand new concepts based on the i-MiEV powertrain, including the i-MiEV Cargo seen here.

Looking something like a larger, more modern Nissan S-Cargo, it's a smaller option for folks who might not need something as big as a Ford Transit Connect. Whether for small business duty or family recreation, the Cargo adds a big box of usefulness to the basic MiEV platform. And yet it's very funky, like a Citröen C15 for Mars. It's cute and functional and we can't see any good reason why Mitsu shouldn't build it. There's a rather short presser after the jump and a gallery of high-res pics for you to peruse below as well.



[Source: Mitsubishi]

Continue reading Tokyo Preview: Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo concept ready to move your eco-friendly goods

Tokyo Preview: Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo concept ready to move your eco-friendly goods originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Sep 2009 14:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Leave a Comment

Audi aluminum-bodied A5 prototype sheds over 240 pounds

Filed under: , , , ,

Audi Aluminum A5 Coupe Prototype - Click above for a high-res image

Audi is continuing the aluminum architecture tradition employed on the A8, R8 and TT with a new prototype of the A5 that sheds 242 pounds from the standard 2.0-liter model.

The Aluminum A5 Prototype uses the steel-bodied production vehicle as its base, then incorporates the Audi Space Frame (ASF) technology and a carbon fiber hood and trunk to bring the curb weight down from 3,130 pounds to 2,888 pounds. Compared to the V6 model, the 208 hp turbocharged 2.0-liter model has a power-to-weight ratio of 159-hp per ton, while the V6 variant trumps it by only 11 hp per ton.

While Audi's aluminum technology is sure to find its way into future models, including the A5, Audi doesn't plan to produce the current A5 using the ASF concept quite yet. That's likely to happen with the next generation model due out in a few years, but talk of an Ur-Quattro revival with the S5 (or RS5) could be the opening salvo with the coupe, and this is a good indication that work is well underway. Full details in the press release after the jump.

Continue reading Audi aluminum-bodied A5 prototype sheds over 240 pounds

Audi aluminum-bodied A5 prototype sheds over 240 pounds originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Sep 2009 14:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Leave a Comment