Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Audi E-Tron is New Product From AUDI

Although it shares elements of its aluminum architecture with the R8, the E-tron is smaller, almost as short as an A3. Despite the generous wheelbase (102 inches), the cabin isn't particularly spacious.

The towering battery stack behind the rear firewall takes up even more space than the R8's V-10 engine, transaxle, and fuel tank combined. Wrapped in liquid-cooled safety foil, the lithium-ion cells provide an energy capacity of 53 kWh, an exact match to the Tesla. To extend battery life, only 80 percent of that capacity is used. The batteries power four electric motors, rated at a total of 313 hp. The whopping maximum torque of 3319 lb-ft needs to be scaled back drastically so that full acceleration doesn't peel the tread off the tires. "The biggest challenge is of course to synchronize the four motors," says Thomas Kräuter, technical project leader for concept cars. "Since each wheel can be accelerated and decelerated individually, this is no mean feat."
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Monday, November 30, 2009

NEW 2011 Ford Mustang V-6

Today, fuel economy plays an equally important part. Chevrolet fired an opening salvo by installing a potent yet thrifty V-6 into its 2010 Camaro, but Ford's firing back with its tweaked 2011 Mustang.
Ford's entry-level Mustang no longer makes do with the antiquated 4.0-liter V-6 used since the 2005 model. Instead, it gleans a new variant of Ford's Duratec V-6, which also appears in the likes of the Fusion, Edge, and Taurus. For the Mustang, it's been bored out to displace 3.7 liters, but retains its aluminum construction and twin-independent variable cam timing with the 3.5-liter unit used in the Fusion Sport.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

ActiveHybrid 7 from New BMW 2010

Technology used by BMW as "impossible" to measure current car technology. BMW technology is now so quiet, comfortable and faster.

Technologies developed in concert with Mercedes-Benz allow BMW to add features formerly unavailable, like the transparent stop-and-start system. When you come to a stop, the V-8 shuts off, leaving the cabin absolutely silent, and releasing the brake pedal has the engine running in microseconds, the car already moving under the impulsion of the 51-pound three-phase synchronous 20 hp 120 Volt electric motor interposed between the crankshaft of the twin-turbocharged V-8 and the all-new eight-speed automatic transmission when there is the slightest touch on the throttle.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Honda Accord Crosstour

The Crosstour's bulging rear end and sloped roof aren't exactly new, but the look is still quite shocking. Vehicles like the BMW X6, the BMW 5-series GT, and the Acura ZDX (which shares no parts with the Crosstour) have all paved the way for Honda's four-door crossover coupe.

That hasn't stopped people from calling the Crosstour's style into question. When Honda first dropped pictures of the Accord Crosstour on Facebook in September, people decried the design. Some said it recalled the AMC Eagle SX/4. Others drew comparisons to the Pontiac Aztek.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

New 2010 Volkswagen Golf

About new volkswagen. The revival of the Rabbit name here didn't help, and that musty moniker has again been shed for 2010. Yet, more than ever, the redesigned Golf's neatest trick is to boggle the minds of Americans who grew up in Dodge Omnis or Chevy Chevettes. Ten minutes in the Golf, and those folks will be amazed that an affordable hatch could look, drive, and feel this good.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Honda U3-X Electric Unicycle

Toyota isn't the only Japanese automaker to amaze us with some funky forms of personal transportation. Honda unwrapped its U3-X transporter prior to the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, which can best be described as a motorized unicycle.

A key component to the U3-X is Honda's Omni Traction (HOT) drive technology. The large wheel you see at the bottom of the cycle is actually made of multiple wheels of varying diameter. The larger wheels allow the U3-X to move fore and aft. Simultaneously rotating the smaller wheels allows the U3-X to steer. Like a Segway, the unicycle is self-balancing; Honda engineers developed the system based upon technologies developed for the company's ASIMO robot program.

Although the U3-X seems to be meant for indoor use only, it weighs only 20 pounds and folds into a portable shape for transit. Power comes from a lithium-ion battery pack which, when fully charged, offers approximately an hour's worth of use.

We're not exactly sure whom Honda is targeting with this contraption (the company says it's "pursuing the concept of harmony with people"), but it will showcase the U3-X at the 2009 Tokyo motor show.

If you'd like to see Honda's U3-X in action, click here to check out a short video demonstration.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

New Suzuki Kizashi 2010

We've been anxious to share with you our driving impressions of the new Suzuki Kizashi ever since its maker dropped off a car at our Ann Arbor offices nearly two months ago and again earlier this month for our annual All-Stars testing. Now that the driving-impressions embargo has finally lifted and we've driven the car in several states around the country, we're happy to reveal that the Kizashi is Suzuki's best-ever car for the American market and truly fun to drive, particularly on racetracks.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Kawasaki motorcycles were introduced in 1954, and have made quite a name for themselves when it comes to high performing motorcycles. Many Kawasaki models have been designed over the years for dirt bike racing.

They are powerful yet lightweight, giving the rider an edge over the competition. The bikes are also known for offering a sturdy frame, great suspension, and being affordable. Many people aren’t aware that Kawasaki manufactured motorcycle engines for years before they decided to make complete bikes. This allowed them to enter the competition knowing exactly what to build and how to build it.

In 1960, Kawasaki bought out Megero Motorcycles, who had been in the business since 1937. They took a brave move by offering every type of motorcycle at the same type across the board. It was a strategy that would make or break them. It was a wise investment as they were able to steadily sell everything from a 50 model to the powerful twin 650CC as well as everything in between.

This was the beginning of Kawasaki making out of the box decisions that influenced their competitors. Rather than being a follower, Kawasaki choose to always be a leader in the developments taking place in the motorcycle industry. While this was risky, it definitely gave them an edge over the competition.

In 1965 Kawasaki decided it was time to start exporting their motorcycles to the United States. The models sold better and faster than anyone had anticipated. The Z1 model was introduced in 1972. It was initially only marketed to the United States to meet consumer requests and demands.

The most well known Kawasaki motorcycle is the ZZR-R1100. This model was introduced in 1990 and lead the industry in sales for five years. Kawasaki made history in 2000 when it introduced the ZX-12R, a super bike featuring a unique frame that could out run any dirt bike on the track.

Most everyone is familiar with the lime green color, representing Kawasaki racing bikes. These models some in a variety of sizes and with various power behind them. Kawasaki racing bikes are known in the industry for being extremely fast as well as light weight. The Ninja series is one of the top selling models in motorcycle history.

When it comes to cruiser bikes, the Kawasaki Vulcan model offers everything you could ever want and more. The are versatile, long lasting, and easy to maneuver. They also come in a variety of sizes with many different power ranges behind each one. What makes the Vulcan so original is that it can be considered a comfortable tour bike, yet it has the power of a racing bike behind many of the models. This is a classy looking motorcycle with two comfortable seats and saddle bags to hold your necessities. The 2007 models are very stylish and are anticipated to sell very well.

Today, Kawasaki continues to be a leader in the motorcycle industry, offering consumers a variety of products to choose from. Each one offering distinct features but all of them offer great quality, lots of power, and a very reasonable price. They are also known in the motorcycle industry as being the leader in providing the necessary parts to repair any of their models. You will find Kawasaki dealerships all around the world, ready to assist you with the perfect motorcycle for you.
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mitsubishi with PX-MiEV Plug-In Hybrid Concept

2009, Manufacturer Mitsubishi will return to the electric vehicle segment as earlier as hybrids. At the Tokyo Motor Show Mitsubishi pulled out of New PX-MiEV hybrid crossover concept.

Looking much like a butch Outlander, the PX-MiEV is perhaps more notable for what lies underneath its five-door bodyshell. Mitsubishi has equipped the concept with its S-AWC all-wheel-drive system (you’ll find a similar setup in the Lancer Evolution), but uses two electric motors -- one at each axle -- for power. The PX-MiEV has an approximately 30-mile range in EV mode, but a 1.6-liter I-4 can serve as a generator for longer trips. If those journeys also require higher speeds or passing maneuvers, the four-banger can directly power the front wheels -- something that can’t be said for the Chevrolet Volt.

The PX-MiEV can be charged using either a 120- or 240-volt supply at home, or by a high-voltage quick charger Mitsubishi is tinkering with as part of its i-MiEV program. If the owner’s home is equipped with a smart grid power system, Mitsubishi envisions the car’s battery packs can be used as an auxiliary power source in case of a power outage.

Inside, designers were reportedly inspired by an airplane cockpit, but the gauge cluster, center stack, and the rear seat entertainment device all appear to be ripped from the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Mitsubishi’s gifted the driver with a host of safety systems, including an around-view monitor (similar to the system in the Infiniti EX), electronic toll payment, and a proximity warning utilizing vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
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Comparison Luxulury Car

we provide the following cars in the luxury car category. BMW 3-series and Audi A4 offers a car with a wagon bodystyles and cadillac finally followed the two cars. Cadillac CTS with the product form Sport Wagon 2010. But of all these cars have in common is a luxury car

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Infiniti QX56 Production

A new report issued by the Nikkei English News says Nissan will move production of the fullsize luxury SUV from its facility in Canton, Mississippi, to a plant in Kyushu, Japan. The same plant is also home to the Quest minivan, which was also once built in Japan.

The production shift is largely due to Nissan searching for space to build a new line-up of commercial vehicles. We haven't heard anything finite as of yet, but the automaker was planning a range of commercial vans (the largest like the NV2500 concept) for North America, and wanted to manufacture most of the offerings within the Canton facility.

According to Automotive News, the QX56 is slated for a redesign in 2011, and may possibly be downsized at that time.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Toyota 4Runner 2010

Fortunately, Toyota's all-new 2010 4Runner holds true to its roots, and remains an honest, tough midsize SUV. The new 4Runner may look familiar -- it still retains a muscular, boxy shape -- but designers worked a number of cues from recent Toyota trucks, notably the Tundra, into its appearance.

What the new figure may not convey however, is an increase in size. The 2010 4Runner is slightly longer, wider, and taller than the last model, and even has space for an optional third row of seating, giving it room for seven for the first time.

What doesn't carry over into 2010 is the 4.7-liter V-8. Instead, Toyota's increased the power of its 4.0-liter V-6 to 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque, besting both the previous 4.0-liter V-6 and the eight-cylinder. Shoppers also have the option of buying a four-cylinder 4Runner (equipped with a new 157-hp 2.7-liter I-4), albeit only in rear-wheel-drive form. Four-cylinder models are mated to a four-speed automatic, while six-cylinder models are bolted to a five-speed auto. All six-cylinder models return an EPA estimated 19 mpg combined, while the four-cylinder, two-wheel-drive model is rated at 18/23 mpg city/highway.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Maier to step down

Mercedes-Benz's global head of sales and marketing, Klaus Maier, is stepping down for personal reasons, the carmaker said on Thursday. Joachim Schmidt, Maier's predecessor, will take up the post again.

Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche said he regretted the departure of Maier. The CEO said Maier "made his mark” in realigning Mercedes to appeal to a younger target group in addition to launching a reorganization of worldwide sales.

Schmidt, 61, was Mercedes' global sales and marketing boss from 1999 to 2005 until Maier replaced him.

Zetsche said it was largely due to Schmidt that the Mercedes brand in 2007 and 2008 grew at double-digit rates and extended its market leadership in the regions for which he was responsible.

Maier, 57, leaves Mercedes as the German premium brand is hard hit by the global economic crisis and collapse in luxury car sales.

Mercedes brand sales fell 17.5 percent to 632,700 cars in the first eight months compared with last year.
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mercedes Benz McLaren MP4-12C at 2010

Ferrari and Mercedes will release new products next year. With 458 Ferrari F430 successor sebgai and roll forth the tantalizing SLS mainstay AMG Gullwing Mercedes-Benz products. The McLaren MP4-12C should Nudge leading economic indicators upward sometime in 2011. McLaren has granted only brief access to the MP4-12C mock-up as the appetizer for the technological feast it plans to serve in less than two years. Decoding the not-at-all evocative name hints at what's on the menu. The MP4 part comes from the chassis designation McLaren has used on all its Formula 1 cars since 1981. The 12 is an internal index related to the company's Dedication to power, weight, aerodynamics, and overall efficiency. And the C celebrates a commitment to carbon-fiber technology for future sports cars.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2010 Buick LaCrosse

With GM cutting its number of brands in half, those who remain in the General's employ now have both the opportunity and the obligation to define their roles, build unique products, and sell lots of cars. As one of GM's four surviving brands, Buick owes a debt of gratitude to the Chinese market, where it is considered a premium marque. In the United States, the brand urgently needs to develop a similar cachet, and the 2010 Buick LaCrosse is an effort to do just that.

Younger skin for a younger Buick

Buick is making a conscious effort to attract younger buyers, and that shows in the new LaCrosse's styling. The grille is bolder, the headlights are more aggressive, and a strong character line on the sheetmetal sweeps along the profile. A high beltline and narrow glass reduce the visual height of the car to create a sportier stance. Chrome accents appear around the side glass, above the taillights, and on the door handles of some models. In all, it is an eye-catching new design, unexpected of Buick, that still doesn't betray the brand's image of comfortable luxury.

Interior by Asia

GM tapped its Chinese designers to treat the LaCrosse's cabin. The result is tasteful design of swooping lines crafted from quality materials. The interior is accented with ambient lighting in the dash, center console, and doors that glows ice blue.

With a base price of $33,765, the top-of-the-line CXS comes with a well-equipped, luxurious cockpit. Interior appointments include leather, heated and ventilated front seats with eight-way power adjustment for both driver and passenger, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a heated steering wheel with audio controls.

Because many Chinese car owners won't actually drive their Buicks (they'll be chauffeured, of course), GM placed extra emphasis on the rear compartment design. Legroom is expansive, and the rear seats are comfortable. While many sedans make do with a flat, benchlike rear seat, the Buick offers supportive, bucketlike seats for two passengers with room for a third on the hump. An available rear-window sunscreen raises and lowers with the push of a button next to the gear selector. All LaCrosses feature a 12-volt plug in the rear of the center console; a 120-volt AC power outlet is also available.

What's luxury without technology?

The high-end CXS comes with an extensive list of standard technology, including Bluetooth, keyless entry and ignition, an eleven-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, a USB port, and the rear AC outlet. For $350, a head-up display shows speed, rpm, outside temperature, and a compass. When listening to satellite radio, song titles appear on the windshield as the song changes, and navigation directions show up as you approach a turn. Our test car came standard with rear parking sensors and was also equipped with the $1995 navigation system, which incorporates a rear backup camera. There's also an available rear-seat DVD entertainment system with two screens mounted on the back of the front seats.

An engine for every driver

Buick will offer three engines in the LaCrosse, all using direct injection and mated to six-speed automatic transmissions. The top-tier CXS model comes with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine found in the {{{Chevrolet Camaro}}} and {{{Cadillac CTS}}}. In the LaCrosse, output is about 20 hp lower, rated at 280 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. But unlike the Camaro and the CTS, power in the Buick is routed through the front wheels. That means there's ample torque steer with spirited acceleration. In casual driving, the 3.6-liter is exceptionally refined, creating a smooth and authoritative driving experience.

The most popular engine will be the 3.0-liter V-6 found on the CX and CXL. It cedes some power to the larger-displacement V-6, with a rating of 255 hp and 217 lb-ft, but returns the same fuel economy at 17/27 mpg with front-wheel drive. The CXL with the 3.0-liter V-6 is the only LaCrosse model that will offer all-wheel drive, which knocks off 1 mpg from both the city and highway ratings.

Later in the year, Buick will add a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that will take the place of the 3.0-liter in the CX. Buick made a late decision to add the fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine to the LaCrosse lineup to meet rising fuel economy standards. Also found in the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers, the engine makes 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. GM predicts about 25 percent of buyers will opt for the more fuel-efficient engine, and we hope they're right. In order for GM to continue building performance-oriented models like the Camaro and the CTS-V, it'll need to move a substantial number of fuel-sippers in other models. GM hasn't yet certified the fuel economy of the smallest engine in the Buick LaCrosse but is estimating it will achieve a 20/30 mpg rating.

Chassis by Europe

The LaCrosse rides on the Epsilon II platform that also underpins the European Opel Insignia. The front suspension setup uses MacPherson struts, and the rear uses a multilink design on the base CX trim and H-arms on the CXL and the CXS. Continuously variable dampers had been fitted to our test car with the $800 touring package. Disc brakes are standard on all four corners, as is antilock braking. On the base CX, seventeen-inch steel wheels with covers are standard, a decidedly downmarket offering on a $28,000 entry-luxury car. But eighteen-inch aluminum wheels are optional on the CX and standard on the higher trims. Nineteen-inch wheels are also available for the CXS.

Buick takes pride in the fact that the LaCrosse suspension was tuned in Europe, a land that is famed for turning out solid chassis that inspire confidence without sacrificing comfort. That focus is a stark change from Buick's reputation for cars that float down highways like a piece of driftwood rising and falling in rolling waves. It's certainly a welcome effort, but can a company so ingrained in comfort do athletic? And what about the risk of taking it too far? If grandma's dentures fall out over a stretch of rough road, is it still a Buick?

The driving experience surprise

Grandma, it turns out, still has her dentures, and she's grinning like a hooligan at a Buick that is more engaging than anything in recent brand history. The LaCrosse strikes the perfect balance of comfort and sport, with a ride that is never harsh and competent body control. It certainly isn't the second coming of the Pontiac G8, but the LaCrosse surprises with its admirable handling ability.

The steering wheel is the one place where the LaCrosse let us down, its variable-effort steering feeling feather-light and numb. This is the last nagging reminder of the old Buick that we'd love to bury six feet under.

Comfort, of course, is still a big part of the package. The powertrain is silky, and the automatic transmission makes smooth gear shifts. Buick has done an excellent job of blocking out wind noise and unwanted powertrain sounds with laminated glass and insulation. But the absence of some noises draws attention to frequent knocks from the suspension when it encounters broken pavement. Still, the overall package of luxury comfort and capable hardware creates an identity that we would love to see throughout the Buick line up.

Buick's brand new day

Set to go on sale in the fall of 2009, the entry-level CX model starts at $27,835; top-trim CXS models start at $33,765. The mid-level CXL begins at $30,395 for front-wheel drive and $32,570 for all-wheel drive. With a fresh design, a luxurious interior, and well-balanced driving dynamics, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse certainly redefines our perceptions of what was once a brand we regularly looked right past. Not only does the LaCrosse prove that the Buick Enclave crossover wasn't just a one-time badge engineering triumph, the new midsize car trumpets the arrival of a newly reinvigorated brand.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

NEWS : First shots of updated Kia Rio surface

Slowly but surely, Kia's new corporate look is filtering through its entire lineup. We've seen it in play on the Forte range, the Soul, and the updated Sorento so far. Now you can add the entry-level Rio to the list. At least we think you can. The photo above shows the newly-facelifted South Korean domestic-market Kia Pride (the Kia Rio in the U.S. market), which is reportedly set to go on sale shortly. As you can see, the car boasts an revamped front fascia, sporting Kia's dog-bone grille, new lighting, and a rehaped, Ford-like lower air intake. As for the car's tail, we'll have to wait and see -- pics haven't hit the web yet.

Kia-World.net, which was first online with the new shots, also reports that the interior is also revised, featuring a new steering wheel, a mildly reconfigured center stack, updated instrumentation, and a stereo system with integrated Bluetooth connectivity. Will we get this update Stateside as the 2010 Kia Rio? Well, the Rio's certainly due for a freshening, so we don't see why not, especially as the automaker makes a move toward a more unified, distinct styling language. Hat tip to Andy R.
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Update : Suzuki hits the skids in the U.S.

Name the mass-market vehicle brand with the largest decline in U.S. sales this year.

It has to be one of the Detroit 3 brands, right?

Wrong. The worst performer on a percentage basis was Suzuki, down 60.2 percent in the first half of 2009. In June, sales plummeted 78.0 percent compared with the same month last year.

Why would an Asian brand that builds small, fuel-efficient vehicles — the recipe for Detroit's rebirth as envisioned in Washington — be at the bottom of the heap?

Blame it on a shrunken product lineup, skimpy marketing and an ineffective captive finance company, which have made Suzuki all but invisible among the Asian players.

Suzuki is the latest second-tier Japanese brand to hit the skids in the United States, and some analysts wonder whether it is the next one headed for oblivion in this market.

"Suzuki had momentum, but they lost it," says a Northeastern dealer who declined to be named.

The company has failed to transfer the strength of its brand in other types of vehicles to its cars and crossovers.

"People spend $6,000 on a Suzuki ATV, $12,000 on a Hayabusa (superbike) and $18,000 on a Suzuki outboard," says Tim Faith, owner of Suzuki Auto Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. "But they question spending $21,000 on an XL-7."

The decline has been rapid. In 2006, American Suzuki finally achieved a decade-long quest to sell 100,000 vehicles, a level it maintained the following year. But this year Suzuki will be lucky to crack 40,000.

In a May 25 conference call with Suzuki's national and regional sales managers, 17 Florida dealers admitted that combined they had sold just nine vehicles that month.

The slide already has had an impact on the dealership count, which has skidded from 460 stores in July 2008 to about 380 today.

A Suzuki official says two-thirds of Suzuki dealers are in the black. But Mark Johnson, a dealership buy-sell consultant in Seattle, says that recent buy-sell transfers of Suzuki stores usually have blue-sky amounts from "zero to the low five figures," meaning dealers don't see much value in the franchise. Blue sky measures a dealership's intangible assets, such as goodwill.

Suzuki's slide
Why the brand's sales have plunged since 2007
• Daewoo-built models were eliminated.
• XL-7 production was halted.
• Fleet business declined.
• Number of dealerships fell.

Slashing product

Suzuki has drastically pared its vehicle lineup. The Reno, Forenza and Verona — volume cars of marginal quality built by GM Daewoo Auto & Technology — were deleted at the end of the 2008 model year. Sales of the Suzuki-built SX4 have replaced Reno sales somewhat, but Suzuki dealers are still waiting for the production version of the Kizashi 3 mid-sized sedan concept due later this year.

Also production of Suzuki's XL-7 mid-sized SUV has ended at CAMI, a Canadian joint venture with General Motors. Suzuki wasn't selling enough XL-7s to keep capacity high enough. So rather than eke out more units at a loss, production was halted last fall.

Those inventories have mostly run out since production ended, and there is no time frame for XL-7 production to resume — or for a replacement vehicle. A crossover based on the Kizashi platform has been rumored.

That leaves the SX4 compact sedan and hatchback and the Grand Vitara crossover as Suzuki's main vehicles. But retail sales of those vehicles have tanked.

Suzuki also has cut its reliance on fleet sales. By this time last year, Suzuki had sold 17,000 vehicles to fleets, nearly one-third of all sales. This year, just 4,000 fleet units have been sold, says Gene Brown, American Suzuki's vice president of marketing,

Technically, Suzuki's sales decline this year is surpassed by Scion's 60.4 percent drop. But Scion is a niche brand aimed specifically at Gen Y buyers who could have problems getting credit in this economy.

"We have to think holistically," Brown says. "We have made huge quality leaps. We have hit a rough patch, but there is every reason dealers can be profitable."

'Own worst enemy'

So should Suzuki dealers be poised for a rebound, or is the franchise beginning an irreversible downward spiral?

Consultant Johnson is pessimistic about the brand's future.

"I see things getting worse for them," he says. "People pick up Suzuki to get a shingle, to get some service business. But banks look at Suzuki so poorly that they won't floorplan them. Suzuki is half out of this market."

Johnson says Suzuki management "is its own worst enemy."

For instance, he says, when several Suzuki dealers in Florida folded recently, the company did not split the orphaned new-vehicle inventory among other Suzuki dealers. Instead, the vehicles were dumped into a general local auction. A Nissan dealer snapped them up and sold them as zero-mile used cars for thousands less than sticker — undercutting Suzuki's own dealers.

Dealers also are unhappy that an incentive for sales personnel paid by Suzuki has recently been lowered from $300 to $100 per unit sold. That is just one sign of Suzuki's waning marketing support.

"They stopped advertising and promotions of any consequence," says the dealer from the Northeast. "They are off network TV, and their cable advertising is seven to 10 days max. The finance company is useless. They used to buy low. Now they don't buy anybody."

Suzuki's Brown says funds for sales incentives were diverted to finance a "free gas for summer" promotion on the SX4 lineup, which last year gave Suzuki its best results of the year. He admits that Suzuki's inability to provide floorplan assistance to dealers has hurt. But he adds that banks are more effective lenders than Suzuki could be. And he says that American Suzuki Financial Services' approval rates are up.

New life?

Brown says that the Kizashi sedan coming this fall will give new life to the brand and that dealers who persevere will be rewarded with a sales turnaround. And many of Suzuki's fallen dealers had dualed with a domestic franchise that went out of business first, he says.

The unnamed Northeastern dealer is unimpressed: "If Suzuki is saving money for the Kizashi launch, what are we supposed to do until October? When new cars come out, that's all they advertise. They let the other ones coast. They never market other models at the same time."

Not all Suzuki dealers are in trouble. Corpus Christi dealer Faith has put Suzuki's Equator pickup — a rebadged Nissan Frontier — to good use in truck country. He is selling about 11 new Suzukis a month, which is enough for him to get by. But even Faith has concerns.

"Suzuki has never had dependable financing or capital funding," he says. "The manufacturer is guessing our orders rather than dealers telling the regional reps what we need."

Faith wants Suzuki to spend more on its umbrella message about other Suzuki-badged products, including motorcycles.

"In Europe, people see Suzuki on the level with Toyota and Honda, but not here," he says.

Brown says Suzuki will incorporate more of its global product message in its marketing. The company recently built a database that cross-references owners of multiple Suzuki products.

Improved quality

Suzuki also has a quality story to tell. Ending sales of the defect-plagued Daewoo-built vehicles prompted an instant leap in Suzuki's quality scores. The automaker jumped from 32nd place to ninth place in the 2009 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, scoring better than Infiniti, BMW and Acura.

With the Daewoo-built cars gone, Suzuki also has seen the industry's most-improved residual values in the past year, according to Automotive Lease Guide.

But James Clark, Automotive Lease Guide's general manager, cautions that the improvement was relative. Previously, Suzuki's 36-month residuals had been languishing in the 30 percent range, at the bottom of the industry.

"It's an improvement from a low point, but you have to put it in context," Clark says. "Small-car residuals in general have moved upward since the gas spike last summer, so Suzuki benefits from that as well."
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NEWS : Germany's economics minister rules out GM buyback of Opel

Germany's economics minister ruled out any attempt by General Motors to include an option to buy back majority control of Opel as part of a deal to give up over 50 percent of its German unit in exchange for state aid.

"This is incompatible with our views and cannot happen," Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told German Sunday paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in an interview.

The comments could suggest that Belgian financial investor RHJ International may have problems with its bid if the company is viewed as only a short-term player.

Germany is expected to shoulder the bulk of the billions in loan guarantees as part of a deal, and state and federal governments are represented on the board of a trust that has to approve a sale of Opel.

The minister also warned bidders for Opel will have to invest more of their own capital for the package of state aid to obtain EU clearance, since otherwise the only ones risking anything are taxpayers.

Final offers due Monday

Guttenberg explained that the size of the state aid requested would not be the deciding factor alone for Berlin.

"That's too simple. What good is an offer that is cheap (to the taxpayers) if the return of the money is in question. The key will be if a concept is so sustainable that there is a high probability that the interest, fees and the money can be paid back," he said.

When asked what was sustainable he responded: "A competitive company that urgently addresses the need to consolidate (capacity and staff)."

Magna International, RHJ and Beijing Automotive (BAIC) have been in a race to acquire Opel, with final binding offers due at the close of business in Europe on Monday.

BAIC has requested only 2.64 billion euros in state aid, while RHJ wants 3.8 billion and Magna 4.5 billion, but the Canadian supplier is seen as heavily favored within Germany -- a country where the short-term time horizon associated with financial investors is viewed with suspicion.

Magna's board of directors was expected to approve its takeover plan for Opel at a meeting on Sunday evening.

Some executives at GM unhappy about losing control over Opel are pushing for a deal with RHJ in part because of the higher likelihood that the Detroit carmaker could reacquire control over its former German subsidiary, sources familiar with the talks told Reuters.
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Update : 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Our smooth-driving, long-legged Four Seasons Volkswagen Jetta TDI has left Michigan, but thankfully not for good - it's currently in New York for a summer fling with senior editor Joe Lorio and NY bureau chief Jamie Kitman.

Before the Jetta headed east, several Ann Arbor-based staff members weighed in on their feelings three-quarters of the way through our year with our first-ever diesel long-term car.

Assistant editor David Zenlea, perhaps the biggest fan of the TDI, drove the Jetta to Chicago in June to visit his folks. "I started out my trip with the intent of hypermiling and seeing how high the TDI could go in terms of miles per gallon," he wrote in the VW's logbook. "Of course, I soon got bored/annoyed with this idea, because it involves going slow and accelerating even slower, and I soon relapsed into my normal, mildly aggressive driving style. I should add that to get the most out of the Jetta in the suburbs, you can't be shy--you have to get on it and short shift into second and third. Still, I averaged an indicated 43.6 mpg for the whole trip."

That impressive mileage led senior Web editor Phil Floraday to reacquaint himself with our Jetta. He wrote: "I felt compelled to spend a night in the frugal, slow, Spartan confines of the Jetta TDI after a weekend of fun in the Chevy Camaro SS and a night with the Aston Martin DB9 Volante. I'm surely headed to hydrocarbon hell if I keep selecting cars with double or triple the cylinder count of the Jetta, so I'll try to do a little atoning now.

"Actually," Floraday continued, "a four-cylinder Jetta TDI isn't a bad place to spend some time. If this were my car, though, it'd be a wagon and have the DSG dual-clutch automatic. I much prefer the DSG to our manual since this TDI has so little horsepower. You really need to drop a gear or three for passing, and I'll readily admit to being too lazy for the frequent up- and downshifts required to hustle along the two-lane roads on my commute."

It seems that our new associate editor Eric Tingwall would also prefer the DSG: "I'm glad to see that others have moaned about this clutch. I stalled at two out of my first three traffic lights and then on a hill this morning--twice. There's absolutely no feel in the pedal, and even when I manage a perfectly smooth take-off, I'm not quite sure where the clutch engages or how I pulled it off. Frustrating."

Executive editor Joe DeMatio chimed in with some wisdom about the bigger picture, though, writing, "The Jetta was a nice car for a lazy Sunday afternoon drive through the country. Perfectly reasonable body control, decent steering feel, good ride comfort; really, I have no complaints. Sure, you learn to keep the revs up, especially when you're launching from an intersection, but overall it's a very tractable powertrain."

And as Jablansky noted during his trek from Michigan to New York, that powertrain is fantastic for long journeys. "After 750 miles, I'd only stopped once and still had half a tank left," he scrawled in the logbook. "On the same trip, our frugal Four Seasons Honda Fit required three stops."

Base price (with dest.): $23,090
Price as tested: $23,090


Body Style: 4-door sedan
Accommodation: 5-passenger
Construction: Steel unibody


Engine: Inline SOHC turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel
Displacement: 2.0 liters
Power: 140 hp @ 4000 rpm
Torque: 236 lb-ft @ 1750-2500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission
Drive: front-wheel
Fuel economy: 30/41/34 mpg (city/hwy/combined)


Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock: 3.0
Turning Circle: 35.8 ft
Suspension, Front: McPherson struts, coil springs
Suspension, Rear: Multilink, coil springs
Brakes F/R: Vented discs / solid discs, ABS
Wheels: 16 x 6.5
Tires: Continental ContiWinterContact
Tire Size: 205/55 R16 H all-season


Headroom F/R: 38.5 / 37.2 in
Legroom F/R: 41.2 / 35.4 in
Shoulder Room F/R: 54.8 / 53.1 in
Wheelbase: 101.5 in
Track F/R: 60.6 / 59.8 in
L x W x H: 179.3 x 70.1 x 57.4 in
Cargo Capacity: 16 cu ft
Weight: 3230 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: N/A
Fuel Capacity: 14.5 gal
Est. Range: 490 miles
Fuel Grade: diesel fuel

Standard Equipment

Front, side, curtain airbags
Auxiliary jack
Cruise control
Electronic stability control
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

NEWS : 2010 Lexus HS 250h Hybrid Is Becoming The Top Choice

If there is one thing that I know about this day and age, it is going to be the fact that hybrid cars are hot. With the environment becoming the way that it is right now, people are constantly looking for a way to help it and cut down on their own costs … such as gas. That is one of the main reasons why the 2010 Lexus HS 250h Hybrid is such a hot car! This beautiful car is honestly one car that I really and truly love.

The 2010 Lexus HS 250h Hybrid when you get behind the wheel could be a little stiff, however once you get used to the handling, it is definitely a car that you want to drive. The inside however did shrink in size it seems, this luxury car is slightly narrow, however it is still one of the most comfortable cars that I have ever been in.

I encourage you to check the 2010 Lexus HS 250h
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

News : Phil Hill's race-winning Jaguar C-Type on the block at Pebble Beach

The upcoming auctions at Pebble Beach are shaping up to be the stuff of legends. Which should come as no big surprise as legends are exactly what will be up for grabs. In addition to the highly anticipated launch of the new "Grand Bentley" amidst the field of lust-worthy machinery on display, auctioneers will be putting such notable classics on the block as Ettore Buggati's own Type 57C, the one-of-a-kind Miller V16 racing car, and this historic 1952 Jaguar C-Type.

The first C-Type Jaguar to be imported into the United States, model XKC-007 was sent straight to the race track where it was driven by no less a talent than the legendary Phil Hill. The World-Champion-to-be took this particular C-Type to three victories at Elkhart Lake, Torrey Pines and Watkins Glen, the former scoring as the first victory for the iconic C-Type in its storied history. After being retired from active duty, XKC-007 passed through several collections before undergoing a full restoration in 1986, after which it won numerous awards on the vintage concours circuit – including a reunion date with Phil Hill to commemorate Jaguar's 50th anniversary in 2002. XKC-007 will be up for auction at RM's three-day Sports & Classics of Monterey event from August 13-15. Details in the press release after the jump and images in the gallery below.
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Volvo racer Walter Cronkite dies at 92

Former CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite has passed away at 92. Although Cronkite was primarily known for his coverage of the JFK assassination, moon landing and the Vietnam war, he also enjoyed success in endurance racing with teammate and Volvo of Long Island dealer Art Riley.

When Riley died earlier this year at 93, his obit briefly mentions Cronkite's involvement with the team and its successes behind the wheel of a Volvo PV444. The team campaigned and won races at Lime Rock's "Little LeMans" in 1957, '58 and '61. Cronkite was the only finisher in a five-car team one year, taking a B-division win and placing third overall. The two also teamed up to compete in the Trans-Canada rally.

You can read Riley's full obit here, a look back on Cronkite's life here, and thanks to Mike Spinelli for bringing this little historical footnote to our attention.
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