Thursday, August 30, 2012

Super car finds buyer even at $240,000.

– McLaren Automotive, the British maker of hand-built supercar based on Formula1 racing technology,   said Thursday it was  hitting the sales targets it had established as  it launches the ultra-expensive sports car in the United States.
 The company, which made its name in building race cars for big manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, has sold 450 vehicles since the first $240,000 McLaren coupe was exported to the US  back in December, it has already sold 450 of the vehicles even though it has only nine dealers spread across the United States, said Richard Power, McLaren’s aftermarket sales manager in the  U.S. 
 “It is on target,” he said when asked during a press preview of McClaren  in Detroit. The Spider variant, of the McLaren super car will cost $266,000 and will reach the U.S. early next year,  Powell added.
Michele Shapiro,  manager of McLaren’s public relations in the U.S., who was in Detroit to show the car to automotive reporters in Detroit, said  most of the cars have been sold in three cities spread across the U.S. – Los Angeles, Miami and New York. “There is definitely a wow factor involved as well as all the other factors in buying a car like this,” she said after the Spider was unveiled for reporters. 
 But a lot of the affluent buyers are car buffs, who know the McLaren name from Formula 1 racing and understand the tech ology that goes into the car, she said.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

South Dakota has safest drivers

Sioux Falls, South Dakota holds top spot for fifth time in the history of The Allstate Insurance Co. annual report on best drivers.  Phoenix, Indianapolis, Tucson, and Lincoln, Nebraska all rank as  top safe driving cities in their population groups, Allstate reported.
  Allstate Insurance Tuesday  released its eighth annual "Allstate America's Best Drivers Report." The report, based on Allstate claims data, ranks America's 200 largest cities in terms of car collision frequency to identify which cities have the safest drivers.
This year's top honor of "America's Safest Driving City" was Sioux Falls, which earned thethe top spot for the fifth time. According to the report, the average driver in Sioux Falls will experience an auto collision every 13.8 years, which is 27.6 percent less likely than the national average of 10 years.
"Allstate's Best Driver's Report was created to boost the country's discussion on safe driving. Each year we hope the report will increase awareness about the importance of being tolerant and attentive behind the wheel," said Mike Roche, senior vice president of claims, Allstate. "We want to recognize the city of Sioux Falls for being the safest driving city in America, and whether you drive in a large city, small city or a rural area, we encourage all Americans to practice safe driving habits and good car safety."
Car crash fatalities are at the lowest level they've been since 1949, but still average more than 32,000 every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"It is vital for us to educate American drivers about safe driving behaviors they can demonstrate on the road that will help make our roadways safer," said Roche. "Minimizing distractions, obeying traffic laws, and using your car's safety features like turn signals and headlights, are all ways to be safer, no matter where you drive." by Joseph Szczesny

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fiat rolls out 500 with turbo charging

 ChryslerGroup LLC  rolled out the new 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo, touting a 135-horsepower 1.4-liter MultiAirTurbo engine, sport-tuned suspension, track-proven brakes,
dynamic exterior design and sport-styled interior at a gathering of car buffs in Monterey, Calif. The new Fiat 500 Turbo answers the call for
enthusiasts who are drawn to the Italian style of the Fiat 500 but want more power and performance  for their daily drive,  according to Tim Kuniskis, Head of Fiat  Brand North America.
“We listened to our customers,“ Kuniskis added “The new  Fiat 500 Turbo is the answer to all the fans that loved the style of our Cinquecento but wanted more power and performance for their daily drive. With 135 horsepower and 150 lb.-ft. of torque, the Fiat  500 Turbo hits the sweet spot between the regular Cinquecento and the high-performance Fiat 500  Abarth. The Fiat 500 Turbo balances and blends the best Italian flavors that our portfolio has to offer,  becoming the perfect canvas for customization,” he said.
For a more aggressive appearance, the new 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo features a pronounced front fascia,
pushed 2.7 inches forward of the Cinquecento’s signature “whiskers and logo” face, to
accommodate the new 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine. Below, larger openings provide greater engine cooling, while twin “nostrils” are precisely positioned on both sides of the front fascia to maximize  airflow in and out of the two intercoolers (both intercoolers are visible through the “nostril” inlets).  Finishing off the front are new Gloss Black headlamps and parking lamp bezels for a more menacing  look.
The Fiat 500 Turbo features bolder side skirts to create a more vertical bodyside profile, while also enhancing its iconic Cinquecento shape. Behind the unique 16-inch aluminum wheels with Nero painted pockets, the Fiat 500 Turbo features a high-performance brake system with semi-metallic brake linings at all four corners, larger 11.1-inch ventilated front rotors for greater stopping power (up from 10.1-inch) and brake calipers lacquered in Rosso (red) paint. To make sure this  Cinquecento properly handles the more powerful engine, the Fiat 500 Turbo features a unique lower control arm and the 500 Sport model’s sport-tuned spring rates, shock tuning and steering calibration, Chrysler said. By Joseph Szczesny

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Alcantara takes on more jobs

Move over leather, Milan-based Alcantara, the maker of luxury automotive interior material, is winning  the attention of auto makers and consumers in the United States.
Alcantara will soon be available on four new models from Ford, Chrysler and Tesla with additional offerings planned in the 2013- and 2014-model years. The material already is featured on a number of luxury cars built in the U.S. or imported here by foreign car makers. Ford’s industry-leading line of F-Series pickups will offer Alcantara on 2013-model F-150 trucks equipped with its aggressive FX Appearance Package. The much-anticipated 2013 SRT Viper will have Alcantara seats and headliners and Tesla’s Model S Signature and Signature Performance models will feature seats upholstered with Alcantara, officials from the Italian company noted.
 The result of unique proprietary technology, Alcantara material is the choice of leading companies in the automotive, marine, fashion, home-interior and consumer-electronics industries.
“A unique, 100 percent Italian-made material, Alcantara has been featured on prestigious brands at all of the world’s major auto shows this year,” noted Andrea Boragno, the company’s chairman and CEO. “Top-of-the-line cars with Alcantara interiors that made world premieres at the Geneva Motor Show included the Aston Martin V12 Zagato, the Maserati Gran Turismo Sport and the BMW M550d. Alcantara also can be found on a number of luxury car lines built or imported into the U.S. by Porsche, Audi, Ferrari and Lamborghini among many others.
“Porsche and Audi both unveiled vehicles with Alcantara interiors at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show as well. Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mercedes, Skoda, Toyota and Volkswagen also had vehicles on display at the Beijing show with Alcantara material.” By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Caddy makes two rare car part of Pebble Beach display

While attention is fixed on Woodward Avenue, Aa pair of one-of-a-kind Cadillac Fleetwood V-16s that were available but never ordered by customers during the Great Depression will be among the cars on display over the weekend at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Carmel, Calif.
The 1934 rumbleseat roadster model 5802 and a 1937 Phaeton model 5859 were part of Cadillac’s made-to-order Fleetwood collection, featured in the “build books” that customers used to select options for their cars. All other body styles were built for customers, but these two lavish models went unselected, according to a Cadillac spokeswoman.
Years later,  Fran Roxas, a noted automobile restorer and coachbuilder,  built the Phaeton 5859 and Roadster 5802 from scratch,  using only the the original blueprints of Cadillac designer John Hampshire.
 Both have won best-in-class awards at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, she said, but the two one-of-a-kind models were rarely seen until a profile profiled in a recent  article in Hemmings Classic Car .
Each car recently sold at auction. The Phaeton 5859 sold for $962,500 and the Roadster 5802 for $1,001,000. Both vehicles are powered by Cadillac’s legendary16-cylinder engine. Cadillac designers recently used the original drawings as inspiration for the Ciel Convertible concept car shown for the first time in the Cadillac exhibit at Peter Hay Hill in 2011. It will be on display again this week.
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is a premier exhibition of pre- and post-war automobiles and motorcycles, as well as concept cars from manufacturers across the world. It has been held annually since 1950. By Joseph Szczesny

Friday, August 10, 2012

Use of stop-start systems set to grow

Stop-start system,  the technology that shuts off a vehicle’s engine when stopped in traffic, is now making its way to the U.S. from overseas where such systems are already in common use, according to a new study.
 The systems go by other names,  among them  idle elimination, idle-stop-go, and micro-hybrid and Lux Research predicts that more than eight million vehicles in North America will be equipped with engine stop-start systems by 2017. Early versions of stop-start technology date back to the 1980’s, and today over 40 percent of the new cars sold in Europe and Japan use this gas saving technology, the report noted
“Engine stop-start isn’t a brand new technology, but the latest systems benefit from significant advances made in the last few years,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “This technology is only going to gain momentum as vehicle manufactures work to meet the more stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards set for 2016.”
 Lux estimates stop-start system can improve fuel economy up to 12 percent and contribute to a reduction in vehicle exhaust emissions.  With an automatic transmission, engine shutdown occurs when the vehicle is stopped for several seconds with the brake pedal applied. With a manual transmission, shutdown takes place with the transmission in neutral and the clutch released. As soon as the brake pedal is released, or the clutch pedal is depressed, the engine restarts automatically.
How much does it cost? On some models, the stop-start system is standard equipment and its cost is included in the vehicle price. Where stop-start is offered as option it generally costs around $300.
  If gasoline costs $3.75 per gallon, the owner of a car that normally gets 20 mpg and is driven 12,000 miles per year would save an estimated $167 per year in fuel costs if the vehicle were equipped with an engine stop-start system. In this case, the system would pay for itself in less than two years and offer ongoing savings thereafter.
 A major challenge in developing stop-start systems has been engineering the systems to meet consumer expectations, Lux said. The engine stop-start transitions must be smooth and seamless, and drivers new to the technology will need to learn that engine shutdown at idle is a normal thing and not a sign of a problem. In some vehicles, heating and air conditioning performance could suffer if the engine remains shut down for an extended time. In addition, the larger and more powerful batteries that are required for stop-start systems will be more expensive to replace when the time comes.
 The first non-hybrid stop-start systems in the U.S. market are on 2012 highline vehicles from BMW, Mercedes and Porsche. For the 2013 model year, Jaguar will join the group, but stop-start systems will also become available on popularly priced models from Ford, Kia, and possibly others. Even trucks will start to see some systems with Dodge adding stop-start to its V6-powered Ram 1500 pickup for a one mile per gallon fuel economy improvement. By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dodge to leave NASCAR

 Chrysler plans to drop off the NACAR racing circuit for the 2013 racing season.
 "It's a very complicated situation," said Ralph Gilles,  the Chrysler executive responsible for the company's motorsports effort. "We didn't want this day to come but it  did," Gilles said during a a conference call. "We've been in the sport since 2001" he added. Gilles explained by the decision was driven by the decision of Penske Racing to leave the Dodge brand for the Ford Motor Co. Ford basically made Roger Penske an offer he really could refuse, noted Gilles, who noted Chysler had spent a significant amount of time looking for another race team to replace Penske before deciding to forego NASCAR racing for the 2013 season.  "There's not a lot of capacity out there," added Gilles, who noted Chrysler's motor sports activity had continued to work on the development of a new NASCAR racer right up until last week when the decision was finally made not to race next season. "We didn't want this day to come but it did," he said. "We leave with a heavy heart," he said. By Joseph Szczesny

Monday, August 6, 2012

Toyota ready to launch electric RAV4

Toyota Motor Sales, USA is bringing an all-new, all-electric sport utility vehicle to select California dealerships by late summer.  RAV4 offers performance, comfort and versatility and  is expected to achieve an EPA-estimated driving range rating of approximately 100 miles, while approximately six hours on a recommended  240volt  charger, according to Toyota executives.
"The RAV4 EV's driving performance, dynamics and cargo capacity are equal to or exceed the gas powered RAV4 V6," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.  "Arriving fully-equipped with an MSRP of $49,800, with available combined federal and state incentives of up to $10,000, the RAV4 EV is a practical, versatile option for the EV enthusiast."
The RAV4 EV is the product of a unique collaboration with Tesla Motors spurred by Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation.  Twenty-two months after the project announcement,
The RAV4 EV combines a Tesla designed and produced battery and electric powertrain with Toyota's most popular SUV model.  The collaborative team set its sights on optimizing the customer experience.  From remote charging options to interior comfort to futuristic interactive displays, the RAV4 EV combines the practical features of a compact SUV with aerodynamic styling and an electric powertrain for the longest EPA estimated driving range rating of any non-luxury EV. By Joseph Szczesny

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fuel economy index holds steady in July

After a three-month drop, fuel economy of all new vehicles sold in the United States remained unchanged in July, according researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
 For July, unadjusted CAFE performance was 29 mpg, the same as in June and an increase of 17 percent,  or 4.3 miles per gallon, since October 2007.
Average fuel economy or window-sticker values of cars, light trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicle  purchased last month was 23.6 mpg, a 17 percent increase or 3.5 miles per gallon  from October 2007, the first month of monitoring by UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle.
In addition to average fuel economy, Sivak and Schoettle issued their monthly update of their national Eco-Driving Index, which estimates the average monthly emissions generated by an individual U.S. driver. The EDI takes into account both vehicle fuel economy and distance driven—the latter relying on data, the lower the value the better,  that are published with a two-month lag.
During May, the EDI stood at 0.82, up from 0.81 in April. Overall, the index currently shows that emissions of greenhouse gases per driver of newly purchased vehicles are down 18 percent, overall, since October 2007.
Finally, Sivak and Schoettle report the unadjusted Corporate Average Fuel Economy performance. This index is based on a different set of EPA ratings than window-sticker values.
 Fuel economy calculations, along with a graph and table of current and recent mpg: By Joseph Szczesny