Wednesday, November 30, 2011
GM pushes new technolgy to protect brake rotors
It costs a little more but brake experts is helping to keep rust off brake rotors by adding on a thin coating corrosion protection i that could double the life of rotors, saving customers as much as $400 over 10 years.
John Calabrese, vice president of Global Vehicle Engineering, said, “GM engineers are pushing forward with innovative technologies that meet the demanding needs of our customers.”
Since its introduction on brake rotors in 2008 on a small scale, the extra protection, dubbed FNC by GM’s engineers after the process used treat the rotor surfaces, has helped reduce warranty claims on brakes by 70 percent. This is significant because in a recent consumer study conducted by GM, four in 10 vehicle owners listed corrosion among the top three bothersome things about their cars.
More than 80 percent of U.S. vehicles are exposed to one or more environmental corrosion creators, such as acid rain, intense sunlight, snow and ice, and road salt. GM brake rotor technical expert Jim Webster and his team of engineeers were confident could eliminate the oxidation brought on by the environment. “Rotors aren’t a cheap thing to replace,” said Webster.
GM engineers developed corrosion protection process that super heats the rotors at 560 degrees Celsius for a day. Inside the nitrogen-rich atmosphere, nitrogen atoms bond to the surface of the steel rotor, hardening and strengthening the rotor.
The name for the technology is Ferritic Nitro-Carburizing, or FNC, and it has most often been used to treat gear sets used in transmissions.
Incorporating a unique surface treatment 10 microns thick, which is about the width of a human hair, FNC creates sufficient friction and allows for effective braking performance while providing corrosion protection.
On vehicles with large open-architecture wheels, showing off wheel hardware, FNC helps keep rotors looking clean and rust-free longer. Right now, the FNC rotor technology is featured on the Buick Lacrosse and Regal as well as on the Chevrolet Malibu, Impala and Volt in North America. It will be featured on more than 80 percent of GM’s vehicles in the U.S. by the 2016 model year. By Joseph Szczesny
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Lexus uses re-cycled car bits in new fashions
Lexus has challenged four of fashion's most inventive designers to rethink their notions of automotive design for an advertising campaign to appear in Vogue. Using some of the more than 2,000 individual parts of a completely dismantled Lexus CT hybrid,the designers created fashionable works of art as part of The Lexus Fashion Workshop. The designers have taken on the challenge various auto parts into fashion accessories while also driving home the value of recyclingm, according to Lexus. The pieces include: "Environmental Crown of Virtue"- designed by Moss Lipow, who usused ,transmission starter and exhaust manifold gasket; "The Valve Collection," which was designed by jewelry creator Eddie Borgo, who used valve lifters, crank bearings and hose clamps; "Nomadic Sanctuary," a sleek trench coat, shorts and clutch designed by John Patrick, featuring floor mats made from plant-based plastic, sound-dampening material, wire harness and leather seat covers and cargo covers and "The Luna Shoe," reated by Alejandro Ingelmo who used armrest leather trim and clear plastic tubing. The four pieces will be highlighted in a six-page advertisement in the January 2012 issue of Vogue. Behind-the-scenes videos of the Lexus CT hybrid being dismantled piece-by-piece are available at Vogue.com/Promotions/Lexus. Additionally, a series of exclusive interviews with the four designers will be posted throughout December. To view the pieces now click: http://www.multivu.com/mnr/53341-lexus-fashion-workshop-vogue-ct-art-basel
"Merging the worlds of luxury automobiles, art and fashion is another example of how Lexus is 'Engineering Amazing' or maybe more appropriately, 'Engineering Unexpected,'" said Brian Smith, vice president of marketing for Lexus. "We were able to challenge four designers to turn one of our most progressive hybrid vehicles into innovative fashion pieces, inspiring the designers, and the world, to see things differently." The collection will be on display December 1-2, 2011, opening day of Art Basel Miami Beach, which is considered of the most prestigious art shows in the Americas. The pieces will be sold at private auction during Art Basel Miami Beach, with proceeds benefiting the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund (CFDA), a not-for-profit trade association representing more than 400 of America's foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. By Joseph Szczesny
Monday, November 28, 2011
EcoBoost garners praise from in survey
Ford Motor Co. is excited about the customer response to the new F-150’s V-6 EcoBoost engine. The V-6 EcoBoost does as well a V-8 in terms of customer satisfaction, proving consumers will move in large numbers to smaller engines.
The V-6 EcoBoost-equipped F-150 is achieving customer quality ratings on par with F-150s equipped with the popular 5.0-liter V-8 engine, according to data from GQRS, a quarterly survey conducted for Ford by RDA Group of Bloomfield Hills. The data was gathered from surveys of more than 1,600 F-150 owners who purchased their trucks between September 2010 and May 2011
“Ford F-150 customers are very discerning so we are pleased they rate our new EcoBoost technology as highly as V-8 engines that some thought truck customers would never give up,” said Doug Scott, group marketing manager, F-Series trucks. “We believe this is a good sign as we plan to roll out this innovative, powerful and fuel-saving technology to most of our lineup during the next few years.”
Electric power-assisted steering, or EPAS – another Ford truck first – is also giving the F-150 a quality edge, with steering that adapts to changing road conditions and vehicle speed, allowing for more confident handling and improved fuel economy. Internal customer data show these technologies have reduced warranty claims with 25 percent fewer complaints for vehicle vibration and 33 percent less reported issues with drifting and pulling. This means customers are happier with the new system than the reliable outgoing hydraulic-assisted steering system.
Ford’s internal quality data compiled by the RDA Group mirror a strong performance by the F-150 in this year’s J.D. Power and Associates’ IQS and APEAL studies. The initial quality study measures vehicle quality during the first 90 days of ownership, while the APEAL study measures owner satisfaction. The F-150 was the only full-size pickup to earn top awards in both J.D. Power studies.
“The F-150 is a symbol of how Ford is reinventing its lineup to lead the industry in fuel economy and quality,” says Bennie Fowler, Ford Group Vice President, Global Quality and New Model Launch. “We have demonstrated with our EcoBoost engines that we can deliver new technology with great fuel economy improvements and leading quality.” By Joseph Szczesny
Friday, November 25, 2011
Fiat Abarth spot become internet hit
The FIAT brand's first 60-second social media spot promoting the new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth has seduced more than 1 million YouTube viewers in just one week. With its all-new 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine, Abarth-tuned suspension and brake systems, race-inspired design and technology features not traditionally included on a small car, the new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth unleashes the brand's legendary performance for track-day enthusiasts and driving purists who want the ultimate high-performance small car with a unique Italian pedigree
The digital Abarth spot titled "Seduction" made its debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show to hundreds of journalists and then was posted to the FIAT brand's YouTube site. Without having ever been aired on television or cable networks, it has rapidly spread through the web and gained global attention. It represents the unique characteristics of the Fiat 500 Abarth as a sensual and strikingly stunning model and takes a peak at what happens the first time a customer encounters the race-ready vehicle. The spot ends with a sexy and edgy message, "The Fiat 500 Abarth. You'll never forget the first time you see one."
"The FIAT brand is thrilled to learn that our spot has captured the attention of so many people across the globe," said Olivier Francois - Head of FIAT Brand and Chief Marketing Officer, Chrysler Group LLC. "What was created as video introduction for the Fiat 500 Abarth's U.S. debut is gaining global momentum and becoming news in its own right. Indeed, it's become a seductive way to maintain excitement and increase awareness for our newest model."
The "Seduction" digital spot was created in partnership with The Richards Group and can be viewed at the FIAT brand's YouTube site or via the following link: http://www.youtube.com/fiatusa By Joseph Szczesny
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Mopar V-10 chalks up first victory
The new V-10 “crae engine” from the Chrysler Group’s Mopar Division has chalked up its first racing victory just two-and-a-half weeks after its official introduction at the Specialty Equipment Manufactuers Association or SEMA show in Las Vegas.
The new 800 horsepower V-10 Competition Race Engine was developed drag racing bu an off-road racing derivativemade its debut in the 44th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, powering Kent Kroeker and Alan Roach to the Class 8 win in the fabled race.
"What an amazing debut for the Mopar V-10 Competition Off-Road Race Engine to win at Baja," said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC's service, parts and customer-care brand. "Our off-road engineers have been working very hard on this engine and it certainly passed its first test with flying colors," he sad.
"Winning the Baja 1000 means laser-focused excellence that can't be demonstrated any other way," said Kroeker. "The performance of the new Mopar V-10 was superb. We were the only vehicle in the Baja 1000 using Mopar power. Mopar engineers sculpted its characteristics around my description of what is needed to win in long-distance desert racing," he added.
Kroeker also was instrumental in the development and creation of the Mopar Ram Runner, which was introduced at the 2010 Moab Jeep Safari. The Mopar Ram Runner served as the Official Pace Truck of the Traxxas TORC (The Off-Road Championship) Series this season, where Mopar-powered Ram Truck drivers dominated, winning 27 total races and claiming the championship in all three PRO classes. By Joseph Szczesny
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Porsche unveils details of 2012 911 Carrera cabriolets
Porsche is letting out some more details of two new cabriolet versions of seventh-generation 911 Carrera, which is just starting to appear in the U.S. These new models, the 911 Carrera Cabriolet and 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, will go on sale in the United States next spring, Porsche official said.
Like the coupe, the 2012 911 Carrera cabriolet features innovative aluminum-steel construction with the addition of an all-new convertible top design, which preserves the typically sleek 911 coupe roof line. Intelligent lightweight design that includes extensive use of aluminum, magnesium and advanced high strength steel ensures lower vehicle mass and lower fuel consumption while offering improved driving dynamics and additional comfort. As with the 911 coupe models, the new Porsche open-top models are significantly lighter than their predecessors.
The new 911 Carrera cabriolet can accelerate from 0-60 in as little as 4.4 seconds and achieve a top-track-speed of 177 mph, while the 911 Carrera S cabriolet can reach 60 mph in as little as 4.1 seconds and has a top-track-speed of 187 mph.
Each of the two new cabriolets uses the same engine as their coupe equivalents. The rear of the 911 Carrera houses a 3.4 liter boxer six-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection, producing 350 horsepower, driving the rear wheels through a standard seven-speed manual transmission or an optional PDK dual-clutch automated manual transmission, according to Porsche product experts. The open-top Carrera S will come with a 3.8 liter boxer six-cylinder DFI engine developing 400 hp. The open-top 911s are significantly more efficient than their predecessors; both models consume less than 10 L/100 km on the New European Driving Cycle. The EPA figures aren't available yet.
With the longer wheelbase, wider front track and host of new features just introduced on the 911 Carrera and Carrera S models, the new cabriolet variants offer sportier driving characteristics, greater precision and agility and increased efficiency.
As you might expect both of cabriolet versions are pricey. The 911 Carrera Cabriolet MSRP is $97,300, while the 911 Carrera S Cabriolet MSRP begins at $108,000.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Audi call center honored for quality service
The Audi Customer Relations Center in Auburn Hills has been recognized by J.D. Power and Associates for its superior customer service through its Audi Customer Relations program. The Audi team of 75 based in Auburn Hills handles customer inquiries and complaints on behalf of customers in the U.S. with an towards creating Audi Fans.
"Meeting the needs of our current and future owners is a top priority at Audi. We are thrilled that our Customer Relations call center has been recognized by J.D. Power and Associates," said Jeri Ward, director of Customer Experience, Audi of America.
To become a certified J.D. Power and Associates Call Center, the call center operations successfully passed a detailed audit of more than 100 practices that encompass customer satisfaction measurement and analysis strategies, as well as management roles and responsibilities. J.D. Power and Associates also conducted a random survey of Audi customers who recently contacted its center located in Auburn Hills, MI.
"This is a significant milestone for us. We are very pleased to have achieved the 2011 Call Center Certification from JD Power and Associates. Our entire team is very dedicated to offering a superior level of service for our customers," said Kim Park, manager of Audi Customer Relations, Audi of America.
To achieve certification status, a call center must perform within the top 20 percent of customer service scores, which are based on benchmarks established in J.D. Power and Associates' cross-industry customer satisfaction research. The evaluation criteria include the customer relations representative's courtesy, knowledge and concern for the customer; promptness in speaking to a person and timely resolution of the problem or request. The experience with the automated phone system is also evaluated based on the clarity of the information provided, the ease of navigating the phone menu prompts and the ease of understanding the phone menu instructions. By Joseph Szczesny
Thursday, November 10, 2011
New Trailblazer makes its debut in Brazil
General Motors has used Dubai International Motor Show in the Middle East to unveil its new newest traditional sport utility vehicle, the Chevrolet Trailblazer which will be sold around the world beginning in early 2012. The new-generation TrailBlazer combines the hauling and towing capability of a body-on-frame SUV with the ride comfort and efficiency of a crossover. Developed in tandem with the all-new Chevrolet Colorado pickup by GM do Brasil, it shares the same architecture as its truck sibling, with a chassis tuned to combine heavy-duty off-road capability with refined city driving. The show vehicle featureed in Dubai features an all-wheel-drive system and is powered by GM’s new 2.8-liter Duramax turbo-diesel engine, which features a variable-geometry turbocharger for an optimal combination of performance and fuel economy.
"It is a reflection of the importance of the Middle East market for General Motors that a vehicle as important as TrailBlazer is making its global debut at this show,” said GM Middle East Operations “Without question, the new TrailBlazer will be one of the biggest and toughest members of the Chevrolet family – the perfect vehicle to take on the Middle East’s competitive midsize SUV segment.
GM’s global vehicle line executive for midsize trucks and SUVs, TrailBlazer offers the strength, design, capability and refinement needed to compete with the world’s best off-road vehicles, according to Brad Merkel, President and Managing Director John Stadwick.
“The growing markets of the world want flexibility. That means power and capability combined with comfort and efficiency,” Merkel said. “TrailBlazer does it all. You can tow anything, go anywhere, comfortably seat seven people, and do so with the fuel efficiency associated with a smaller, less capable vehicle. It’s the complete package.” By Joseph Szczesny
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Chrysler set to unveil Super Bee in LA
On the heels of Automobile Magazine, naming the Dodge Charger 2012 "All-Star " Chrysler Group plans to unveil another iteration of the Charger, the SRT Super Bee at Los Angeles Auto Shown next week
Ralph Gilles, President and CEO - SRT and Motorsports said the exclusive models reflects extroverted interpretation of the legendary Super Bee performance built for the enthusiast who enjoys a vehicle with one mission in mind - to go fast.
"The 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee is a salute to the fun-loving past of Dodge muscle cars powered by the legendary 392 HEMI V-8 in a back-to-basics performance machine," Ralph Gilles, President and CEO - SRT and Motorsports said. Performance numbers include 0-60 mph acceleration in the high 4-second range; quarter mile in the high 12-second range; 0-100-0 mph in less than 16 seconds; top speed of 175 mph and stopping power from 60-0 mph in 120 feet.
Only a limited number of 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee units will be built for the U.S. market. All Dodge Charger models are built at the Brampton Assembly plant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
The race-inspired interior of the 2012 Charger SRT8 Super Bee features the SRT exclusive three-spoke contoured performance steering wheel, exclusive Z-stripe cloth performance seats with amped yellow and silver striping in both the front and rear as well as silver accent stitching and embroidered Super Bee logos on each of the front seat headrests. The instrument panel also features the Charger Super Bee logo on a unique dash plaque.
Newly modified software includes the appearance of the Super Bee logo in the center instrument panel's Electronic Vehicle Information Center at vehicle start up.
On the exterior, the Charger Super Bee features a unique SRT badge with a 3-D helmeted bee mascot on the new split crosshair grille finished in Gloss Black. New 20 x 9-inch, five-spoke cast-aluminum wheels with black painted pockets developed specifically for the Super Bee models provide a unique performance look.
World-class stopping power from 60-0 mph in 120 feet comes through 14.2 inch (front) and 13.8 inch (rear) vented/slotted rotors with four-piston Brembo calipers. Improved brake cooling and fade performance at all four corners comes courtesy of a new underbody belly pan with integrated brake ducting.
"We were impressed at how much more refined the 2012 Charger is from its previous generation," said Jean Jennings, president and editor-In-chief of Automobile Magazine. "The interior is sophisticated, the exterior design is striking, and it is thrilling to drive. The Charger definitely earned its place on this very exclusive All-Star list."
The new 2012 Dodge Charger is also the first domestic sport sedan to feature a state-of-the-art eight-speed automatic transmission - delivering a best-in-class 31 miles per gallon (mpg) highway. By Joseph Szczesny
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Chrysler gets solid marks from Consumer Digest
Chrysler continues to receive third party endorsements. Consumers Digest gave the automaker eight spots on its “Best Buys,”list more than doubling the number it got from the magazine in 2010 and 2011. The Chrysler Group vehicles that received Consumers Digest automotive “Best Buys” for the 2012 model year included the Chrysler: 300, Town & Country Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge: Durango, Grand Caravan, Challenger, Ram 150 and Fiat: 500
“It’s a tremendous honor to have so many vehicles named as ‘Best Buys’ by Consumers Digest,” said Doug Betts, Senior Vice President – Quality, Chrysler Group LLC. “We have gone to great lengths to enhance the craftsmanship and quality of all of our vehicles. These awards are evidence that we’re producing cars, trucks, crossovers, minivans and SUVs that customers – and critics – appreciate,” Betts said. By Joseph Szczesny
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Toyota to export vehicles from US to Korea
Toyota is wasting no time in taking advantage of the new free-trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea by announcing plans to begin exporting the U.S.-built Sienna minivan to distributors in South Korea. The Sienna is produced at Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Princeton, Indiana and this will be the first time it will be exported outside the U.S. Shipments are scheduled as soon as this month. Toyota began exporting U.S.-built vehicles in 1988 and the exports increased 30 percent in
calendar year 2010 to about 100,000 units. With the start of these shipments to South Korea, Toyota will now export U.S.-assembled vehicles to 19 countries around the world.
Other export vehicles include the Avalon sedan from Georgetown, Ky, the
Sequoia sport utility vehicle from Princeton and the Tacoma and
Tundra pick-up trucks from San Antonio, Tex. Combined, these three U.S. plants directly employ more than 12,500 for an estimated 65,000 other U.S. jobs at vendors and suppliers. “Toyota’s North American operations are constantly working to identify and expand new export opportunities for the vehicles we produce here, building on our extensive investments in auto production, research and development in the U.S. and helping to maintain a strong, stable base of jobs,” said Yoshimi Inaba, president and COO of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. “With this development and other possible
achievements in the future, we hope to continue boosting exports from our North American operations.” By Joseph Szczesny