Toyota poised to take #2 spot from Ford

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Ford Motor Co. has admitted what we saw coming for some time. The New York Times just ran a story saying Ford has announced that they fully expect Toyota to take over as number two behind General Motors. At least in America. Perhaps not unexpected, but it still sounds weird to hear that Ford won't be #2. To put this in perspective, Ford has been number two since the 1920s! And if that's not enough, Ford says the projections show they think that third place might be their permanent new slot. Apparently The Way Forward means taking one step back, which if that's what it takes to return to profitability, then so be it.

Back in September Ford speculated that its market share would hit a low of 14-15% allowing Toyota to surpass it. W ith the death of the Taurus and the decline in sales of light trucks, Ford has certainly been hurting. Conversely, it seems that Toyota can do no wrong with buyers, despite product that some consider boring and increased recalls with uncharacteristic lapses in quality. But things aren't looking any better for Ford. The new Tundra should be out in February, which will only increase Toyota's market share according to most analysts. Although we expect the Dodge Ram to be the truck that suffers most from the Tundra's arrival, eventually relinquishing it's No. 3 spot to the Japanese pickup over time.

[Source: Reuters via The New York Times]

 

[via] Autoblog

Competizione 8C gets its own site and video

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It's no big surprise that Alfa Romeo has given the unbelievably gorgeous Competizione 8C its own site. But it's a rather well-done, Flash-filled site with a few never-before-seen photos of the Italian sports car inside and out, official performance facts and one amazing video of the Competizione in action, powersliding around curves and glistening in Italian sunshine.

Visitors to the site can even see how the 8C's curves will look in a color other than red. Choose from Alfa Red, 8C Red, yellow and black. Interior leather colors include black, red, natural leather and titanium. The Alfa site confirms what we already knew about the car's potential performance: 4.7 liter V8, 450 bhp at 7000 rpm wi th a 6-speed lever-shifted transmission.

Thanks, Antonio, for the great tip!

[Source: Alfa Romeo, Car and Driver]

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VIDEO: Walk around of Volvo XC60 Concept

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We just told you the latest on Volvo's upcoming XC60 Concept, but there is so much more to see. Photos are nice, but now we have video as well! Check out the YouTube clip after the jump. The XC60 will debut at the NAIAS in Detroit next month, but this XC90 sibling is worth a closer look, especially considering the fact that it is probably going into production in 2009.

It uses Ford's European "kinetic" design language, and somewhat evokes the look of the Ford Iosis concept. That's a pretty big departure for Volvo, but it's nothing compared to that interior! Definitely less production-likely than the outside, the inside is really sci-fi.

[Source : Volvo via YouTube]

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Hot Wheels Amy saves Shelby Automobiles, Inc

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After ten years at the helm of Mattel, "Hot Wheels Amy" Boylan was beginning to feel penned in. More of an entrepreneur than a corporate manager, she wanted something more challenging and exciting. And boy did she find it, as the new President of Shelby Automobiles, Inc.

She had met Carroll Shelby in 2003 when he approached her to produce 1,000 Hot Wheels Cobras to give to guests at his 80th birthday party. Shelby was so impressed by the way she hastily handled the request, that when she left Mattel in 2005, he immediately sought her out.

You see, Shelby Automobiles was in a bit of a mess. Even with Carroll's legendary name, there had been some problems with manufa cturing and the Series 1 debacle had drained $38 million from the company coffers. Orders for 170 Cobras, even with their $10,000 deposits in hand, couldn't be filled because the company couldn't afford the necessary parts. Although Boylan thought the company was $3 million in debt, it turned out to be closer to $6 mil. The huge Las Vegas facility was practically at a standstill. Perhaps this was too big of a challenge. Well, to most people maybe. To Amy, she saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

Follow the jump for the rest of the story.

[Source: Automotive News, sub req]

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Autoblog Podcast #51: Win an iPod Nano for listening!

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Welcome to the Autoblog Podcast #51, or as we like to call it, episode #2 of the relaunched Autoblog Podcast. Feedback on the new sound has been extremely positive so far and we've done more to refine the sound in this episode. The Autoblog Podcast is also now firmly seated in the No. 3 spot on the top ten list of Automotive podcasts in iTunes. Considering the top two podcasts are both video podcasts, that makes the Autoblog Podcast the No. 1 spoken word podcast in the Automotive category. It's a small but significant victory for this ragtag group of 'casters.

In this episode we start off by gushing over the accidentally revealed 2008 Chevy Malibu. Well, Damon finds the car a bit boring in the style department, but in the end we marvel at how many good domestic sedans will be available in 2007. The biggest story of the week on Autoblog was definitel y the mystery vehicle that appeared in downtown LA, and we do our best on the podcast to dispell the misguided rumor that it's a Ford. It's not, trust us. Next we move on to the debut of the Chevy Equinox Sport and discuss the brand's gross misuse of the SS moniker and what it's doing to repair the damage done by such vehicles as the Malibu Maxx SS. Finally, we finish out the show taking sides in the Solstice vs. Miata battle. The numbers may favor the Solstice, but we don't.

The keyword required to win the Autoblog Pod cast Relaunch Sweepstakes #2 is also revealed in this episode. The prize for the second sweepstakes is a 2GB iPod Nano valued at $149. To enter the sweepstakes is easy. Listen to the podcast for the keyword, then email the keyword to abresearch at gmail dot com with your name, age and address in the email. We'll randomly select a winner from the entries at 12:00AM EST on Wednesday, December 27th. Check out the official rules here. Good luck and thanks for listening!

SUBSCRIBE to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
LISTEN to the show now
ADD the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Ford and Microsoft teaming up to offer Blue&Me in-car computing in 2007

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Thanks to sister site Engadget, we've learned about a new collaboration between Ford and Microsoft that will put a personal computer in your car. Expected to debut as early as next year on some Ford vehicles and be shown both at CES and NAIAS in January, the system is known as Blue&Me, although the name could change when it reaches our shores. Similar to the project with FIAT, it will support cross-platform Bluetooth smartphones and hopefully some of other neat features found on the FIAT system.

As Engadget tells us, the Windows Automotive technology allows drivers to access their phones through the car's stereo, to use voice commands and steering wheel-mounted controls to control the audio, and to read text messages via the car's computer. A USB port in the glove compartment will also allow audio expansion using any compatible device. Down the road (ha ha) the system will include GPS control and weather and traffic-monitoring systems as well.

[Source: Engadget]

 

[via] Autoblog

HUMMER's H3 Open-Top Concept

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You can already get a big sunroof on your new HUMMER H3, but not one this big. The H3 Open-Top Concept that HUMMER will feature at the 2007 North American International Auto Show will feature this "Ifinivu" sliding fabric roof system, not entirely unlike the one we've seen perched atop this next generation Jeep Liberty test mule. That's not surprising since we know ASC designed the unit for the H3 Open-Top and is likely the supplier for Jeep's unit, as well. As you can see, the Infinivu system allows you to reel the top all the way back, all the way forward, o r anywhere in between. There's only one crossbar behind the second row seats, which shouldn't impede anyone's view of the ample sky. With the back glass retracted into the rear door and the roof pulled all the way to the front, the H3 Open-Top would make a perfect vehicle for an African Safari... or a party wagon for cruising in the Woodward Dream Cruise.

The actual concept will also feature Silver Spectra Flair tri-coat paint with blacked out wheel wells, Mickey Thompson Baja Claw 325/50R20 tires, and a custom lambskin leather interior with black chrome door panel trim, along with a host of other HUMMER accessories that any customer can already buy out of their catalogue.

Check out GM's full press release after the jump.

[Source: GM and World Car Fans]

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Honda's plans for 2007 and beyond

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In its state of the Honda World address yesterday, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. revealed what it has in store for 2007 and beyond. Honda basically said it would keep building on its Honda-ness. Our word, not theirs. The idea is to play on the strengths and characteristics that make Honda unique in each segment. They identified three specific areas to reach those goals: 1) Establishing advanced manufacturing systems and capabilities; 2) strengthening the foundation for overseas growth; and 3) accelerating Honda's effort to reduce environmental footprint.

Honda also announced that 2006 sales projections show worldwide sales of cars (+5%), bikes (+3%), and power products (+15%) were up over 2005 levels. Although Japanese market auto sales were down a bit (-2%), Honda promises a new model for '07 that "offers new value for the customer by in tegrating the design and mobility of an SUV and the functionality of seven-passenger seating." Could it be that mystery vehicle we showed you a couple of days ago?

Click through for Honda's press release on the speech that outlines all of the automaker's plan for the near future.

[Source: Honda]

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Spy Shots: 2008 Ford Five-Hundred

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The eagle-eyes at KGP have spied a 2008 Ford Five Hundred with very little camoflage. What's changed? Okay, okay, they've updated the nose by adding Edge-type lights that integrate more with the grille, lessening the bug-eye effect of the current model. There are new strakes in the airdam, and the new corporate three-bar grille, but other than that this looks like a mild freshening. We're detecting perhaps a smidge more angularity in the new front end. Out back, the taillights have been revised with more clear and just accents of red. Overall, a minor freshening but a much needed one to bring the Five-Hundred in line with the new face of Ford. We've always thought it was conservatively styled, but not ugly. The revisions keep it up to dat e, but the addition of the new 3.5-liter V6 with more power will no doubt pick up more sales than this mild facelift.


[Source: LLN]

 

[via] Autoblog

Aston Martin getting artsy at NAIAS

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Click image to enlarge

Every manufacturer present at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) has to draw attention to their booth by any means possible. In the case of Aston Martin, it's partnered with René Staud, one of the most prolific automobile photographers of the last two decades, to cover the automaker's installation with shots that combine the natural beauty of Iceland and the new Vantage V8 Roadster.

If you've read any buff book over the past 25 years, you've probably seen Staud's work. He's widely recognized as one of the best in his field and has taken shots of a number of high end vehicles; from Alfas to Mercs, classic Bimmers to new Lamborghinis. The above pic is just one of several shots playing on the theme "Fire and Ice" that will adorn the Aston Martin's stand in Detroit. We read a lot of press releases each day, but this line: "...refined yet fiercely powerful, elegant with an undercurrent of raw seduction, hot but also ultra cool, " takes the cake for pretentious, PR-ified drivel. Thankfully, such nonsense doesn't take away from the talent of the man behind the lens.

[Source: Aston Martin]

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Ford neuters the beancounters

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Ford just amended its bylaws to take a little fiscal power away from its board. In the old version of the bylaws, the finance committee could greenlight spending on product development projects. Under the new one, not so much. The Dow Jones MarketWatch learned about this item through a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Apparently the board will still be able to review how things are done regarding the management of Ford's financial affairs, but the ability to ok items will be removed. What this will probably mean in the real world is that decisions can happen more quickly. Management will be able to make decisions on its own concerning product and won't have as man y layers of approval to go through to make changes when needed. Sounds like a step in the right direction. Anything that cuts the bureaucracy has to be good.

Thanks for the tip, Devin!

[Source: Dow Jones MarketWatch]

 

[via] Autoblog

George Lucas receives first Mosler MT900 supercar

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Our car culture obsessed friends got the inside scoop on the first road-legal Mosler to be delivered to a U.S. customer. The owner in question is none other than George Lucas, creator of the good and, at times, not-so-good Star Wars sextology.

We originally reported about the arrival of the Mosler last month, but were unsure about who was going to be the lucky owner No. 1.

Since the first two Mosler MT900s are being utilized by the bespoke carmaker as in-house testing units, Lucas' Vader-black model bears the serial number 003 and comes equipped with an LS6 sitting mid-ship, producing 435 HP and allowing the dark horse starship to dispatch the sprint to 60 in a scant 3.1 seconds.

We'd like to think that Lucas might find inspiration from the Mosler for future, forward-thinking cinematic experiences, both from its purposeful shape and mind-boggling performance.

[Source: Jalopnik]

 

[via] Autoblog

AutoblogGreen for 12.21.06

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AutoblogGreen we may be called, but we're just as likely to be covering alternative forms of transportation like trams and scooters. Yesterday, for example, we might as well have been named AutoTramblogGreen or StrangeKoreanScooterTransportDeviceblogGreen. But those names were taken. So we just cover the stories and keep our simple name.

Oh, and guess who came to GM's defense in matters of electric cars? Toyota.

 

[via] Autoblog

RR of the Day: 1977 Datsun 280Z

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We figured that we had a good thing going, so why mess with success? Following up yesterday's lightly modified '76 Z-car is reader JWeller710's 1977 280Z. This one, however, is different in that it is "99.9% original." Our man JW, you see, is the car's one and only owner, and from the looks of things, he's been a very good parent to the Datsun. Other than replacing normal wear-and-tear items, he's had the car repainted once, which accounts for the .01% self-imposed originality deduction.

It's white with tan seats, and the single-speaker (driver's side) factory radio still works fine. The passenger-side speaker was an option back then, for those of you who were wondering. The car is completely rust-free, and it's been driven 110,000 miles so far. JW has no plans whatsoever to change or modify anything on the car. H e says that with it's classic lines and excellent inline six, there's nothing worth changing. He thinks it's just perfect, and we're inclined to agree with him. it's today's Reader Ride of the Day.

More pics, plus info on how to enter your own car after the jump.

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Camaro Convertible preview... exactly what you'd expect

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Camaro Convertible ConceptEarly next month, when GM opens up their stand at the Detroit Auto Show, expect to see a concept version of the new Camaro Convertible front and center. While the Camaro's debut at last year's show was a surprise, there are leaks aplenty surrounding the 'vert.

So, while it wont exactly be a shocker when it appears, it'll still have our tongues wagging. The Car Connection, who has the story, mentions that when the Coupe finally bows, we can expect to see 6- and 8-cylinder (obviously) versions. We've heard juicy rumors from inside sources about a potential horsepower figure beginning with "5" for the top-of-the-line Z28/SS/whatever-they'll-name-it. This would make complete se nse since the Shelby GT500 dishes out as much, and the Camaro will need to be able to run with (or past) the pony to keep the base happy.

In the meantime, we're counting down the days to January 7, when we'll (hopefully) get to see the purported convertible in person.

[Source: the Car Connection]

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: PM does burnouts in Police Charger

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Slow news day, so maybe this just seems more entertaining right now than it really is. The guys over at Popular Mechanics had the keys to a Dodge Charger police car and shot some video of themselves doing a couple of burnouts and donuts with this Hemi-powered beast. Personally, we'd prefer to see them chasing down some unsuspecting speeders and illegal street racers, and then beating them at their own game. Our lawyers have advised us to strike that last line, so please forget you ever heard it. Something about impersonating an officer and making irresponsible suggestions to break the law.

Thanks for the tip, Ben.

[Source: Popular Mechanics]

 

[via] Autoblog

Nissan slaps a sticker on the Versa sedan

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If you need a car and have $12,550 to spend, you can get yourself into a brand-new 2007 Nissan Versa sedan, which went on sale nationwide on Wednesday. We're partial to the hatchback ourselves, as we favor the practicality it offers, but based on what Americans buy, we appear to be in the minority.

Nissan knows this, and that's why your local Nissan store now has two flavors of Versa on the lot. The aforementioned $12,550 buys you a Versa S with a 122-horse 1.8L and a six-speed manual. If you prefer the optional 4-speed auto, it'll cost you another thousand dollars.

The pricing scale progresses up to $15,550 (plus destination) for the Versa 1.8 SL with CVT. That model comes well-equipped with 15" alloys, power windows and doors, AM/FM/CD, remote keyless entry, cruise, 60/40 split rear seat and a security sys tem. We decided to build a CVT-equipped SL with the optional $300 XM radio on Nissan's website, because $16K and change for 30/36 EPA fuel economy sounded pretty good to us.

Unfortunately, when we added the XM, Nissan forced us to also take the $700 Convenience package, $600 sunroof package, and $250 ABS package as well. That brought the price up to $18,015 before taxes, etc. and that strikes us as being misleading, and lame. The Versa at a little over $16K was attractive, but at $18K we'll pass, thanks. (Oh, and Nissan? Make the ABS standard next time, OK?)

You can check out their full press release after the jump.

[Source: Nissan]

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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In the Autoblog Garage: 2007 Cadillac Escalade

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2007 Cadillac Escalade

The Cadillac Escalade is good looking, charismatic, and larger-than-life -- both literally and figuratively. People we encountered wanted to be in it, and one of the most common refrains heard was, "You're driving." We were happy to oblige.

If you were to compare the gaggle of new GMT900 utility vehicles to the Rat Pack, Escalade, without a doubt, would be Sinatra. It's fully aware of what it is, and it makes no apologies; this is perhaps its most endearing quality. So many vehicles nowadays bend over backwards to be non-controversial that it makes things boring after a while. The Escalade embraces its excesses, and does so in a manner that one can't help but enjoy. The idea of a truck-turned-luxobus is no longer a new concept, but it's one that's executed very well in Cadillac's latest high-profile, leather-lined blingwagon.

Unlike the other GMT900s ( Yukon , Tahoe, Suburban, and Avalanche), selecting the big Caddy is a choice that's made specifically because of its substantial cachet - cost be damned. If price was really a consideration, a fully-loaded Yukon Denali will give you just about everything the Escalade has -- minus some of the glitz and around 20 horsepower - for $10,000 - $15,000 less.

So there you have the setup. Follow the jump for our detailed impressions after having one in the garage for a week.

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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