Get ready for the onslaught - GM plans to celebrate New Year's with marketing blitz

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Ah, that mythical 18-34 demographic. So celebrated in our popular culture, so coveted by brands, so elusive and fickle. They do like to party, though, and what better way to try and capture a little of their deficient attention span than to plaster your logo and brand all over the first huge party of the year? That's what Chevrolet will be doing to fulfill it's self-appointed role as the Times Square celebrations "official ride". Kind of ironic when you think about trying to drive in Midtown at any time, let alone a holiday. There's no way your Chevy's gonna get anywhere near Dick Clark that night.

GM's making quite the holiday push, actually. Chevrolet plans to cash in on hats adorned with the b owtie logo and a new billboard, all of which should be captured by cameras from several networks. They'll also be running spots for the Cobalt, HHR, Impala, and Malibu. Pontiac will be sponsoring a musical contest on Jimmy Kimmel Live and will host a band on their Pontiac Garage stage. Add to this the general ad blitz that makes up the GM Red Tag event, and it may feel like the GM show, punctuated by New Year's breaks.

[Source: Automotive News]

 

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Detroit Bound: Toyota FT-HS Hybrid Sports concept

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More leakage emanated from the folks at Inside Line, this time in the form of the FT-HS Hybrid Sports concept from Toyota. Currently, the only images available are these two-dimensional computer renderings, but attendees of the North American International Auto Show will be able to see it in all its heady glory come next month.

Toyota's conceptual conveyance comes equipped with a 3.5-liter V6, mated to a hybrid motor, which should produce upwards of 400 HP and 0-60 times in the four-second range. As for the concept's aesthetic, well, that's left to the eye of the beholder. Aggressive, angular, artsy. We could use a lot of different adjectives, but we won't venture beyond the "a's" and let you fill in the rest.

The biggest question t hat arises from this concept is whether or not it has the potential of filling the gaping void in Toyota's lineup since the Supra ceased production. We'd like to think so, but haven't decided if this is the right direction to take.

We'll bring you all the details and live shots from Detroit next month, but in the meantime, venture to Edmunds for what's available so far.

Thanks for the tip, Gary.

[Source: Edmunds Inside Line]

 

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Mulally has 'secret war room' within Ford

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If history serves them right, taking Alan Mulally's advice to "follow me" should be looked at as an opportunity by Ford brass, even when it involves a walk out of the boardroom and down a flight of steps in to his secret "war room".

Insiders are talking about the room, buried deep within the confines of Ford's world headquarters in Dearborn, that has walls covered with charts, graphs and lists of Ford products and markets that define the road to turn the troubled automaker around.

The recently-appointed CEO also points out that he feels some really good people will leave the company during these gut-wrenching times, but for those who stay the ride back up will be infinitely more exhilarating.

Mullaly may begin to lay out his plans as early as the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month. Let's hope Ford is ready to battle its way back.

[Source: Automotive News; sub req'd]

 

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VIDEO: '70 Pontiac GTO - "The Humbler"

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Not only were the musclecars of the 70's relentlessly cool, but the TV commercials for them were super-entertaining . We showed you the killer GTO Judge spot featuring Paul Revere and the Raiders already, but this one's even more significant. It's for the 1970 GTO featuring the optional Vacuum Operated Exhaust (VOE), a.k.a. The Humbler. The option was briefly available from November '69 to January 1970.

The way it worked was simple: the driver pulled a lever on the dash that relieved backpressure and increased horsepower while adding a delightfully vicious exhaust note. The commercial you see above is the only one created for the Humbler, and it aired just once -- during Super Bowl IV. In it, an unnamed John Q. Badass rolls into the local drive-in, unleashes The Humbler, and becomes The Man instantaneously.

The car sounds spectacular, and it's all set to a special "Humbler" song that was obviously written just for the spot. Sadly, after it aired, GM brass ordered Pontiac to kill the option immediately and pull the commercial off the air. Thankfully, the miracle known as YouTube lets us give the old-school brass the finger and watch it over and over again, which is exactly what we've been doing since we found it. Enjoy.

[Source: YouTube]
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AutoblogGreen for 12.25.06

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Merry Christmas, if that's your thing.

 

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We wish you a MINI Christmas

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This is classic . All credit goes to Motoring File on this one, but it's too good not to share on Christmas Day. Enjoy.

[Source: YouTube via Motoring File]

 

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Lutz on CAFE; oh and Seasons Greetings too!

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On what was to be his holiday greeting to the world, Mr. Lutz has decided that he had a little more than a kiss under the mistletoe on his mind to close out 2006.

In his blog, GM FastLane, Lutz clarifies his feelings regarding the recent initiatives to revise the current CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. He comments that pursuing the idea to increase the CAFÉ in the US by 4% annually, forcing manufacturers to sell smaller and smaller vehicles, is like forcing the clothing manufacturers to only make clothes in small sizes to cure obesity. What really needs to happen is a step-up in the development of alternative fuel solutions to reduce our dependence on petroleum.

In conclusion, Lutz asks for the government to get more involved in the development of alternative fuels, as the Japanese government continues to fund these programs with millions of dollars and will continue to be at the forefront of these technologies unless attitudes change.

Read his' full post here.

[Source: GM FastLane]

Continue reading Lutz on CAFE; oh and Seasons Greetings too!

 

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Best cars to commute in?

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OK, we know what you're thinking. Another list from another publication claiming to know what's best for us. But this one's kind of different. Folks from NewCarTestDrive.com and CarsDirect.com have just announced their picks for the "Best Cars for the Commute." As they point out, America's commute times have gone up dramatically in the past few years, so the relationship between man and machine has gotten even more important. Particularly inside, where the wide variety of electronic gadgetry has turned many autos into rolling entertainment centers. Hence, these websites teamed up to determine the vehicles that might be best for keeping you sane while behind the wheel.

They decided that above all drivers want to be safe and secure in a cacoon o f calm, especially in the chaos of traffic jams. And so, an emphasis on comfort, smooth operation, and isolation joined the biggies like fuel economy and price in making their choices. Not focusing on performance as much as making the drudgery of commuting pass with as little stress as possible, there are still a few cool cars in the top ten. The list runs the gamut from the Ford Focus and Suzuki SX4, all the way up to a Benz and a Porsche! Click through the read link for the whole rundown, including a detailed explanation of how each choice meets their criteria. And as always, we'd love to know what you think of the list.

[Source: The Auto Channel]

 

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Autoblog Christmas Watch: Clarkson's Good, Bad and Ugly

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We thought we should provide you a little automotive diversion from your holiday festivities, so for the past two weeks, we've been amassing clips of Clarkson's UK-only film, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, with the intention of stringing them altogether in one post. Well, after a quick search of Google Video, we came up with the full hour and twenty minute flick to provide you a respite from the tinsle and eggnog.

If you're going through Top Gear withdraws, this will help ease the pain, as Clarkson pits some of the European benchmarks against some of Detroit's finest. A couple of the more unusual comparos include putting the Lotus Exige toe-to-toe with a Mustang GT, and bringing a Viper together with an M-roadster. Jezza employs his typical jingoistic tactics during his search for a "good" ' merican car, including some other ridiculous head's up matches, so remember to take it with a grain of salt.

Follow the jump for the video and a link if you wish to view the movie in all its full screen glory.

Continue reading Autoblog Christmas Watch: Clarkson's Good, Bad and Ugly

 

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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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VIDEO: Santa upgrades his reindeer

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When he needs to traverse the globe in a hurry, Santa still relies on those trusted reindeer we all know and love. When he's doing straight ground-based work, though, his "B" team out of Stuttgart looks more than capable of getting the job done. Who knew?

Thanks for the tip, Andrey!

[Source: LiveLeak]

 

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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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Chery recalls 1,875 SUVs

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For the first time ever, Chinese automaker Chery is issuing a global recall. Chery is bringing back 1,875 of its Tiggo SUVs with automatic transmissions because they could suffer engine failure if a faulty fan controller is not repaired. The automaker said it has exported 25,000 of the SUVs around the world this year, but only 80 exported SUVs fall under the recall. At least some Tiggos are produced in Russia, but it was not clear if the recalled vehicles were built there.

Chery, founded in 1997, had its first domestic recall in 2005 to repair its Eastar sedans. It marked the first recall ever by a local Chinese car maker.

Some analysts are saying that the recalls are a good sign Chery, and the emerging Chinese auto industry, is more prepared to take on the international market. Only sin ce 2004 has China had laws regulating its auto industry, forcing its car makers to improve the quality and safety of Chinese-produced cars.

Read the entire recall notice translated from Chinese here.

[Source: Auto Industry]

 

Porsche to update 911 for 2008

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If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times: the Porsche 911 is the iconic, staple sports car. So when Stuttgart rolls out a revision, however minor, it's headline news. And the latest reports indicate that the 2008 911 will feature a few revisions, as the current version has been on the market for four years already.

Don't expect anything drastic in the styling department, as the 911's design progression has fallen squarely in the evolutionary, not revolutionary category. And once again, we can forecast that only automotive enthusiasts and Porshephiles with a keen eye will be able to differentiate the new model from the old. Expect a bigger air intake in the front fascia and new tail-lights. Since Porsche designers appear to be hyperconservative when it comes to tinkering with the 911's overall look, that should be about the extent of the visible changes.

Pop the hood and...well, you can never see much under the hood of a 911, anyway, but rest assured there will be changes. We swear. For starters, as backwards as it may seem to derive technology from a sport-ute into a sports-car, the new direct-injection engines that debuted in the latest Cayenne will be turned around and shoehorned into the back of the 911. Porsche is claiming that will net a 10-15% improvement in fuel economy, which of course is the first consideration for most Porsche buyers - read previous with sarcasm - and a power increase of five to twenty-five horsepower across the range. The bigger news is the replacement of the lackluster and outmoded Tiptronic automatic gearbox with a dual-clutch transmission, like its cousins from the VW Group. That should help close the gap between the clutch-full and clutch-less versions, and we'd predict an accompanying spike in sales of auto/Tiptronic/DSG versions as compared to their stick-shift counterparts.

Of course, with so many variations in the 911 line-up, this means we get to look forward to new Carreras, Cabrios, Targas, Turbos, GT3s and a whole lot more.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 

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Audi DTM wants Villeneuve and Montoya

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Used to be there were known routes for washed-out F1 drivers to go. Couldn't make it in the big leagues, you could always go to Le Mans-style endurance sportscar racing or to touring cars, for example. But as the story we've been following has unfolded, the latest refugees from the top-level series have been spinning a different web, painting their unprecedented moves to NASCAR as a sideways one, not downwards. That doesn't mean they're without their options, though, as Audi has made clear.

Ingolstadt would be happy to welcome both Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve into their German touring car team. DTM has had its fair share of former F1 drivers, and after losing Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Audi is keen to fill his seat with other big names.

Touring cars are Europe's version of stock-car racing, and though maybe not as big as NASCAR is in the US, Germany's DTM series draws a big crowd and races on familiar road-course tracks. Montoya may be on a more solid track into NASCAR than Villeneuve, but neither of their futures in the series are secured, so a move to DTM for either is still far from out of the question.

Related posts:

[Source: German Car Blog]

 

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AutoblogGreen for 12.26.06

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Will Mercedes-Benz play Santa and bring some compacts to U.S. shoppers ? Did Santa bring Elton John a G-Wiz electric car for Christmas? The tough holiday questions are asked over at AutoblogGreen, even on Christmas.

 

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Toyota FT-HS Concept Gallery

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At ten past noon on Sunday, January 7th, Toyota will take the wraps off its newest design study in Detroit. The FT-HS Hybrid Sports Concept will supposedly foretell the future of the automaker's performance offerings, but until then, we'll have to make due with the 50+ computer generated pics that we have available in our gallery.

As we reported over the weekend, the HSC will develop over 400 HP, via a 3.5-liter DOHC V6, mated to an assumed 650V, water-cooled electric motor. Although the weight of the concept hasn't been disclosed, extensive use of carbon fiber and aluminum should give the HSC the ability to return a mid-four-second 0-60 sprint.

The Newport Beach, California-based studio have designed a 2+2 coupe that will measure 170.3 inches in length, 73.2 inches wide and 50.8 inches high, with the engine being visible through a plastic panel mounted on the hood. A retractable roof has been designed to open up the occupants to the elements, by sliding back and then covering the two, rear seats.

Although many in the press are christening this as the next Supra, we're still a bit skeptical if such a vehicle would carry the storied moniker. But, considering the anticipated $30,000 price tag, the HSC will certainly fill a niche that has long been neglected in Toyota's lineup.

Be sure to check out the gallery here and look for more details on the HSC in Detroit in just shy of two weeks.

 

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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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New MINI Cooper S production delayed

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There had been some rumblings recently that the Oxford plant, where the new R56 MINI is being produced, may be halting production of the new Cooper S model. Until today, it was just a rumor.

However, Motoring File got confirmation that due to a leaky fuel pump found on 3,000 Cooper S', a retooling of certain components in the production line has forced a manufacturing stoppage of the iconic hatch. Currently, the plant is closed for the Christmas and New Year's holiday, and no time frame has been set as to when production will begin.

How this will affect those of you with a deposit on the new, turbocharged Cooper S remains to be seen, but better to have the problem solved now, before delivery takes place.

[Source: Mot oring File]

 

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Obvio!, Lotus to create multifuel, microsports cars

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It's really easy to get excited when you hear Lotus is teaming up with a Brazilian carmaker to produce a small (89" wheelbase), light (1,648 lbs), three-seat sportscar called the 012. Then to hear it gets 40 mpg on the highway from its 1.6L 4 cylinder and offers a choice of paddle-shifted CVT or 6-speed manual and it's starts to sound very interesting especially when the list base price is only $28,000! And there's more? Sportier models offer 170 hp, and 250 hp Tritec engines. With that power to weight ratio, you'll be the Autocross king! My god, that's better than the GT3, the Sport Exige and even better than the Caterham R400! Those numbers, according Obvio, the company planning the 012, are attained while running ethanol or compressed natural gas. Pump good old gasoline into the tank and see a 10% boost!

If only you didn't live in the lawsuit-happy U.S.A . With luck, you'll get to drive it on your vacation to Brazil next summer.

Cancel the trip, because ZAP!, the company importing the first Smart cars into the States, has signed a contract with Obvio to buy 50,000 of their little funcars over three years beginning in 2008. There will also be an electric plug-in version of the car, with 0-60 times in the 4.5 second range, a top speed of 120 mph and a starting price of $59,000.

If you like your sporty economy cars to look more econ than sport, check out the Obvio 828 and more details on both models after the jump.


[Source: Motor Authority]

Continue reading Obvio!, Lotus to create multifuel, microsports cars

 

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RR of the Week: Poll Results

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As we kept tabs on the RR of the Week polling over the weekend, our assumptions about the '71 Celica's dominance were confirmed. In hindsight, it seems like a no-brainer. Take a beautifully sculpted cult favorite, throw in an intelligent assortment of suspension and safety goodies, and then toss the proverbial cherry on top, in the form of an F20C yanked from a Honda S2000. It's undeniably a thing of beauty and a well-deserved win against some trick competition.

Congrats to Koich and all his friends that made it possible!



On a minor housekeeping note: we'll be foregoing our normal RR of the Day posts this week and instead focus on setting up polling for our RR of the Year. That's right. We're going to pit all of 2006's RR of the Week winners against each other in a poll to see what vehicle will be crowned Autoblog's Reader Ride of the Year. Expect polling to begin later this week and last through December 31st. As always, if you'd like to see your own ride featured in our RR of the Week, be sure to follow the directions after the jump and submit your vehicle to our Flickr group. Remember, we're not looking for the wildest show car or the cleanest, ground-up restoration, we want to see what serious enthusiasts have in their garage, no matter how mundane. Bring it and lets start the New Year off right!

Continue reading RR of the Week: Poll Results

&nbs p;

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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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