US about to overtake UK as #1 consumer of MINIs

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Perhaps trying to give its new, second generation MINI Copper sales a shot in the arm, MINI announced that they could see the US overtaking the UK as MINI's number one market. At the Detroit Auto Show, MINI of North America vice-president Jim McDowell described the US as being on the fast track. Whatever that means. The US accounted for more than 20% of the 188,000 units moved worldwide. Mini hopes that the recent changes at the Oxford plant will help boost production capacity to 240,000 next year and feels the US will get the lion's share.

Selling the new Cooper and Cooper S alongside the previous generation cabrio Sidewalk, MINI thinks they'll have a strong showing against the competition. And that competition will include newcomers like the Audi A1 for the first time. With the exterior looking almost identical to the current models, it's hard to imagine there will be a huge increase in demand for the new MINI, but the mechanical changes (like switching the S from supercharging to turbocharging) might keep the MINI ahead of the challengers. And especially in the increasingly more fuel-efficiency conscious US, this might mean up-to-40-mpg MINI sales will grow. As long as there are cars in showrooms and dealers don't gouge customers, that is.

[Source: Mini]

 

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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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Lamborghini's plans for the future

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Some would call it cheapening the brand, others would call it advertising, others still would note that it's a revenue stream. What are we talking about? We're talking about the coming preponderance of Lamborghini-branded trinkums. Okay, we're not really sure how much exactly there will be, but Lamborghini is slowing down its vehicular business a little for 2007 and picking up its activity in the knick-knack sector. The reasoning for the growth shrinkage is to improve the efficiency of the organization, as well as popularize the brand through the aforementioned things other than cars. Hey, there are Ferarri branded laptops, and F.A. Porsche has designed all sorts of stuff, so why not? We'd love to see what Lamborghini could do to the simple commode, forinstance. In all seriousness, the brand is coming off a sales growth spurt of over 25 percent between '05 and '06. They're playing Ben Bernanke so that they can maximize profits and take a breath as they prepare for future growth.

Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann played it close to the vest when talking to Winding Road about upcoming developments from Sant A'gata. There will be new Lambos coming soon, though. Keep an eye out for a V10 powered, Porsche Cayenne based SUV sometime in 2009. Following on the heels of what will be one of the world's most expensive and high performance SUVs will be a 2+2 inspired by the Espada. The Espada was a four-place GT that looked like the result of a tryst between a 400G T and a Plymouth Belvedere. We think a real car that you could use would be a great addition to the stable of Trattori. The Gallardo and Murcielago are all well and good, but you're not going to get dressed up in your finery and try to wriggle in and out of those things in front of your favorite restaurant's plate glass window. An SUV and GT make perfect sense -- they'll broaden the appeal of the Lamborghini brand and offer exclusive-car buyers something a little more mainstream while still offering outstanding performance. Perhaps they won't be quite as capable as the big-dogs, but they'll certainly help pull the financial sled.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

Detroit Auto Show: The Scenery

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Click on the image above for a gallery of high-res images of the scenery among the cars

In keeping with the ongoing efforts to eliminate gender harassment and discrimination in the workplace in Corporate America, auto shows here have become increasingly devoid of models diverting your attention from the cars. However, the Autoblog team in effort to supply our readers with what they seem to want has scoured the far reaches of Detroit's Cobo Hall for the past three days armed with cameras. Click on the image above for a gallery of high-res images of the scenery among the cars. The last holdouts seem to be the manufacturers of certain high-priced, Italian cars, with a few others scattered around.

 

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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: Tiger attacks from the sandtrap with a Buick Ranier

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Buick really scored a hole in one when they signed Tiger Woods to be the company spokesperson. Although not exactly the demographic, Buick's historical ties with the PGA make it a great marketing move.

This video starts with Tiger looking for his "lost" wedge. As each group on the tee finds it, he asks if they want to bet on who can hit the ball closest to the hole... for a Buick Rainier. As the foursomes play through, Tiger eventually gives away four of the Buick SUV's to the stunned golfers that beat him.

Buick couldn't have made a better deal than to have Tiger sell their cars. especially with all of the news, both good and bad, recently surrounding him. He continues to win, got married, lost his father and will now become one himself this summer. As Buick works hard to lower the average age of their buyer from the late baby-boomers they currently attract, furthering this relationship should be their ace in the hole.

[Source: YouTube via GM Inside News]

 

[via] Autoblog

CES 2007: The Cars of CES Part II

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More cow-sized speakers, more LCDs, more more more more. And some really odd appliques for your car's otherwise blandly smooth body panels. The gray VW Beetle's ground shaking booms could be heard all over the show floor. Amazing such impressive sound could come from such a tiny car.

Check out the gallery for 34 more 1280x photos of flash and whiplash from CES 2007.

 

[via] Autoblog

GM may make bid for Proton

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GM has thrown its hat into the ring, along with VW and PSA Peugeot Citroen, to purchase floundering Malaysian carmaker Proton. Over the past three months, Proton has lost 250.3 million ringgit (or about $71.5 m US) due to increased competition from Malaysian-based Perodua Motors and Naza automakers.

The state-owned carmaker has met with GM officials over the past few months and it's expected that a bid for Proton could be made sometime this month. If General Motors would purchase a controlling stake in the foreign automaker, they would have control over both Proton's holdings and manufacturing capacity.

Since Volkswagen and PSA Peugeot Citroen are the preferred bidders, the chances of GM making a winning bid are up in the air. But GM's clout in the marketplace may be to the advantage of Proton, as an executive told one daily newspaper that GM may help Proton build a car for the U.S. market in five years. If that's the case, we'd like to see Proton's relationship with Lotus exploited to our benefit on these shores.

[Source: Business Week]

 

[via] Autoblog

Ford says "No diesel for you!" to American buyers

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The Focus we should've received - diesel-powered, 50 MPG and thoughtfully styled.

During an interview with Automotive News, Mark Fields, Ford's U.S. division president, said that the automaker would not be offering diesels in any of its passenger cars in the near future. For the time being at least, Ford's only diesel-equipped vehicles will be in their flagship F-series line of pickups.

The reasons behind not bringing an oil burner to America are varied, but the primary hurdle is the cost of engineering an engine that would meet the U.S.'s stringent emissions standards. This is the same argument currently employed by Toyota, when asked about its own pursuit of diesel technology.
Instead, Ford will focus on high-tech gasoline mills, utilizing turbocharging, direct injection and hybrid powertrains, which will increase fuel economy and in some cases, performance.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

 

[via] Autoblog

Bond to drive Jag XF in next flick

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After the debut of the Aston Martin DBS in the most recent Bond flick, "Casino Royale", it looks like 007 #22 will feature the incredible "concept" Jaguar C-XF unveiled this week in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show.

Ford still has a $100 million dollar, three-movie deal for exclusive product placement that began with "Die Another Day" in 2002. Wouldn't this be a great way to kick off the sales of such a beautiful new automobile? With Aston Martin still on the auction block, the new Jag looks like a logical next step to us.

Click here for more than 60 high-resolution images of the C-XF in our gallery

[Source: CoolBrit]

 

[via] Autoblog

Bahrain to take 30 percent stake in McLaren

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Looks like Bahrain is getting into F1 in a big way. Through the nation's wholly owned Mumtalakat Holding Company, the Kingdom of Bahrain is about to buy a 30% stake in McLaren. Apparently McLaren boss Ron Dennis and Saudi investor Mansour Ojjeh are each selling half their share of the Formula One team. DaimlerChrysler will still have 40% and Dennis and TAG will each still have 15%. No changes are expected in the management team.

This is kind of a big deal after rumors had circulated that Mercedes was in talks to buy the other 60% of McLaren. Some see this as another step for Ron Dennis towards retirement, but he insists that his love of F1 has never been stronger. Chief executive Martin Whitmarsh has already started to assume more control over the past few years, but Dennis probably wants to stick around to see the team reclaim the top spot in the manufacturers' championship. And with two-time defending champion Fernando Alonso in the driver's seat next year, he could get his wish.

[Source: Reuters via Drive.com.au]

 

[via] Autoblog

2007 350Z Pricing Announced

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Click the image for our full, hi-res gallery.

Although the car has been on sale since January 5th, we just got word of pricing (and pics) on Nissan's 2007 350Z lineup. One of the best sports cars on the market since it was introduced a few years ago, the refreshed '07s get even better with a newer 306hp version of Nissan's much-lauded 3.5-liter V6, as well as an updated nose, Bluetooth phone compatibility with steering wheel controls and a few new control choices. All that for just an extra $250 over the 2006 models. The only model that goes up in price more is the Roadster Enthusiast model, which finally get s the front seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags which are now standard on all Zs. That model will be $500 more than a comparable 2006 version. Still a bargain in our book.

The 350Z is now available in your choice of four coupes or three roadsters. The full rundown of prices is as follows:

350Z 6MT ($27,900)
350Z Enthusiast ($29,600-6MT, $30,600-A/T)
350Z Touring ($32,700-6MT, $33,200-A/T)
350Z Grand Touring ($36,100-6MT, $37,100-A/T)
350Z Roadster Enthusiast ($35,550-6MT, $36,550-A/T)
350Z Roadster Touring ($37,900-6MT, $38,900-A/T)
350Z Roadster Grand Touring ($40,250-6MT, $41,250-A/T)

The press release is posted after the jump.

Continue reading 2007 350Z Pricing Announced

 

[via] Autoblog

CES 2007: Autonet mobile ISP not bad

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Earlier this month, we told you about Autonet, a new technology that makes your car its own Internet service provider. While at CES, we got a chance to talk to Autonet co-founder, president and CEO Sterling Pratz.

Sterling had a Hummer H2 at the show outfitted with the company's mobile ISP system and we gotta admit, it was pretty cool. A large LCD television in the back of the H2 was showing streaming video from Sterling's Slingbox back home. Granted, the quality is not something you'd want on the 102" LCD we saw at CES, but for something beamed to a satellite, then back to Earth to Sterling's house, crammed through the cellular network, through a cell tower then into the Autonet system, it wasn't unwatchable. He went on to demonstrate streaming Internet radio and said he could also access his iTunes library at his house from the road, making all those in-dash hard-drives look old school.

We weren't able to check out how well the system works while rolling, but Sterling claims the Autonet box will eliminate any gaps in service while traveling and smooth out transitions from one cell tower to the next.

Any wi-fi able device will be able to take advantage of the mobile ISP which will be hugely useful to business travellers and a great entertainment option for casual travellers. Expect to see the device on Avis rental cars this year in 10 major cities for an extra charge. Sterling tells us consumers should be able to pick an Autonet up for their own cars in August for about $399 and $49 a month for service. Hopefully we can get our hands on one soon to let you know how it works in RL.

And, yes, it is po tentially another in-car distraction for drivers. But imagine being able to park your car outside your cheap-ass hotel that doesn't have wireless access and surf the net? Or give the kids their X-Box in the back seat to continue their online conquests?

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog Podcast Relaunch Sweepstakes #4: Winner announced! (Take two)

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Due to my lapse of judgment during the incoherent hours we were covering the Detroit Auto Show this week, I accidentally chose a winner for our Autoblog Podcast Relaunch Sweepstakes #4 a day early and announced it on the site. The official rules stated readers had an extra day to submit their entries, so to be fair we decided to give away a second grand prize, another 80GB iPod Video, and choose the winner at the originally scheduled time, which was 12AM EST this morning. At the stroke of midnight we randomly selected the submission of Edwin L., who will be the second and final grand prize winner of our Autoblog Podcast Relaunch Sweepstakes.

Now that we've got you all hooked on our new an d improved podcast, you may find it hard to hear that episode #54 won't be released until next week. All of our energy this week has gone into covering the Detroit Auto Show, which was an incredible success for the site. We hope you enjyoyed the coverage, but the rest of this week will be devoted to getting to know our families again, paying bills and forming our thoughts for the next episode, which we hope to record with all or most of the team that was present at the Detroit Auto Show.

Thanks again for listening to the Autoblog Podcast, and keep your ears peeled for Episode #54 coming next 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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Preview sketch of the next G35 coupe

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UPDATE: According to Automotive News (Sub. Req.), the redesigned G35 will debut in New York, this April, along with a small crossover that may see production towards the end of the year.

Click the image to enlarge.

We've tired of trying to discern what styling cues will be pulled from some of the concept sketches that come our way. Thankfully, the nice folks over at Nissan Sport have a thorough and thoughtful design analysis of the G35 coupe illustration that was released earlier today.

We'd encourage you click on over for their full breakdown, but a few elements are worthy of note.

The front bumper seems to have taken the brunt of the modifications, dispatching some of the angularity seen on the concept, while the two air intakes on the front bumper have been nixed in favor of a gaping inlet in the middle, accompanied by two smaller intakes on either side. The "katana" grille is still present, however the implausible (for the time being) door mounted cameras have been replaced with more conventional mirror units and the c-pillar's kink seems to have been smoothed out to better match the roof's plunge into the hatch.

Follow the link for a few other Nissan-obsessed writers' opinions and look for the production vehicle to, hopeful ly, bow sometime this year.

Thanks for the tip, Guru G!

[Source: Nissan Sport]

 

[via] Autoblog

Ferrari to embark on 50 country tour to celebrate 60th anniversary

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Ask any red-blooded Ferrari tifosi and they'll recognize the significance of the year 1947. That was the year the magic started. It was the year that il commendatore, Enzo Ferrari, started selling the first cars that bore his name. Many world championships, street car accolades, and happy customers later, and the company is still going strong. And now that the calendar is showing 2007, it's time for Ferrari's 60th birthday celebration.

And apparently the Panamerican 20,000 run for the launch of the 599 went better than hoped for and has spawned a sequel. To commemorate this special occasion a road rally will be held, beginning in Abu Dhabi on January 28th and covering 6 different continents along the way. The pa rticipants should reach the finish line in Maranello at the end of June. Abu Dhabi is significant as a starting point because it is the site of the future Ferrari theme park and a pretty big market for the Italian firm's vehicles. After crossing 50 different countries, the racers will reach Maranello around June 24th.

As publicity stunts go, this is a doozy. Parading a bunch of Ferraris around the world sounds like our idea of a good time, but it will be educational too. After all, something has to go on those batons. So Ferrari will be showing off 60 of its most important automotive innovations. Things like aluminum pliers for disc brakes, the electric differential, and the F1 gearbox. And it's obvious these innovations have kept Ferrari ahead of the game all these years.

In fact, as they explained in the briefing that accompanied the relay race announcement , business is thriving. Running at almost full capacity, riding a new wave of popularity since the 599 GTB Fiorano was launched, the company again took the opportunity to deny rumors of a new entry-level model, despite continued reports to the contrary. We hope they have a passenger seat open when they hit the States.

Press release after the jump.

Continue reading Ferrari to embark on 50 country tour to celebrate 60th anniversary

 

[via] Autoblog

Pininfarina forced to make cutbacks

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Automotive News is reporting that despite higher revenue and increased production, coachbuilder Pininfarina is scaling back on staff. Ten percent of the workforce will be let go. Pininfarina says that they had seen a pretty strong period of growth recently with five new models coming out (plus the one-off Ferrari P4/5 among other high-profile projects), and is now hitting a letdown period. Altogether 235 people will be getting their pink slips as a result.

Pininfarina is currently building the Alfa Romeo Brera coupe and Spider, Ford Focus Coupe Cabriolet and Mitsubishi Colt CZC in Italy, and the Volvo C70 in Sweden. Only the Italian plants will be affected. They think the workforce reduction will retur n the company to profitability. It seems amazing that despite growing from a production level of 8,000 units in 2005 to 35,000 units in 2006, the company's €13.8 million ($18 mil) profit turned into a €13.4 million ($17.4 mil) net loss over that period of time. Even at a time when revenue has gone up 68.5 percent to €459.1 million ($597.8 mil).

[Source: Automotive News, sub req]

 

[via] Autoblog

MG now known as Modern Gentleman

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It sounds to us like the kind of men's magazine you see at the supermarket. You know the one, the impossibly buffed-up guy on the cover touting a workout that only takes 2 minutes and will make you as solid as an oak tree. Whatever. Modern Gentleman? It sounds too genteel for its own good, nearly obscene. There's pretty much nothing left of the old MG, save the logo and the two letters. Originally denoting Morris Garages, MG's new owner, Nanjing Automobile Group, has elected to change the name to Modern Gentleman. Nanjing wants the brand to represent grace and style to Chinese buyers. Okay, but couldn't they have picked a brand without heritage? MG is less about grace and style than it is about wind in your hair, bugs in your teeth, Prince Of Darkness elec trics, incessant leaking and driveway spots marking your little British drophead's territory. At least that's what it means to those of us who ever lusted after a rorty little British roadster. Don't worry so much about the name, just bring us back the MGB GT V8, please.

[Source: Motorauthority]

 

[via] Autoblog

GM claims Toyota has more pull in Washington DC

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Bob Lutz is crying foul on the special treatment Toyota seems to be getting from Washington, D.C. lately. GM's vice chairman for product development, Lutz was quoted as saying he thinks Toyota is spending a lot more on politics nowadays because they seem to have even more clout than world number one GM in lobbying power. Political power is important when government regulations are being considered and can mean a great deal in advancing certain innovations, or steering automotive development towards one company's products over another's.

"Toyota outspends us. They have more congressmen and senators than we have," Lutz told a group of reporters Tuesday at the North American International A uto Show. "Toyota has more clout in Washington than we do." "I try not to go to Washington too often," he added. "I find it profoundly depressing."

Perhaps it has something to do with all of the US plants being built by Japanese firms of late. Toyota alone employs 39,000 workers in six US plants with the possibility of adding two more in the near future. Contrast that with the 140,000 workers GM has left after all of the recent layoffs and you can see that GM is still far and away employing more US workers, but Toyota's is still a big workforce.

[Source: The Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Detroit Auto Show: 2008 Subaru Legacy and Outback

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Click on either image to view our high-res gallery of the Legacy 3.0 R and Outback

Subaru launched the 2008 Legacy and Outback models at the Detroit show, and while it's largely business as usual for the all-wheel-drive duo, there are a few revisions that the Subie fans amongst our readership might find interesting.

After its kid brother, the Impreza, has gotten a new face time and time again, the Legacy and Outback have now gotten their turn under the knife. Sheetmetal up front is the biggest change for 2008. The Legacy gets a new, bigger, chromed-up grille; restyled bumpers front and rear with shorter overhangs; and new headlights and taillights. The Outback gets a bigger, more upright and rugged-looking grille, plus restyled fenders, restyled hood and new wheels. Stability control will be offered on more models, and a tire pressure monitoring system becomes standard. Both models also get some revised features inside.

The 2008 model year also marks the debut of the range-topping Legacy 3.0 R, transplanting the 3-liter DOHC 245-hp Flat-6 engine that's already under the hood in its Outback sister car. Paddle-shifters for the 5-speed auto are also new, and the car bobs and weaves on a Bilstein suspension setup. And while it may not have the clout of a premium German badge, the 3.0 R makes a compelling case against the usual suspects from Europe.

Follow the jump for the full press releases, and click here or on the image above for our gallery of high-resolution images from the studio and the Detroit show floor.

Continue reading Detroit Auto Show: 2008 Subaru Legacy and Outback

 

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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: Nissan Murano GT-C v. Honda S2000

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Okay, yes. It's probably the most ridiculous shootout ever perpetrated by those wacky Brits on Fifth Gear. But remember, this particular Murano is the one-off GTC concept that made its debut during last year's Goodwood Festival of Speed. As such, it's packing 350 turbocharged ponies courtesy of a T3/4 hybrid mated to the oh-so-delectable VQ35DE. Coupled with a few choice suspension mods and some incredibly necessary brake upgrades, the Murano GTC could be a winner, but alas, the combination of high weight, a high COG and that dastardly CVT made it less of a track bomber and more of a grocery getter.

Either way, it's one of the faster and more exclusive ways of performing your normal schlepping duties. Ready. Set. Run errands.

Make the jump for the video.

[Sources: YouTube via PaulTan.org]

Continue reading VIDEO: Nissan Murano GT-C v. Honda S2000

 

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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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Your armrest is sooo 20th century

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Johnson Controls has introduced a very unique looking idea for center armrest/consoles. It increases capacity over conventional floor consoles by 30- to 150-percent and can house such items as navigation, infotainment and security systems. It also includes a rear sliding storage drawer for occupants confined to the back seat, as well as additional storage in the lid.

As interior space requirements continue to increase, ideas like these will become more important to designers seeking to create unique solutions to storage issues. The guys at Johnson Controls are never short on cool ideas, and this one should be ready for integration in car interiors by 2010. The ongoing challenge will be getting the often conservative manufacturers to open their minds to these forward-thinking ideas.

Read the complete press release after the jump.

[Source: Edmunds.com]

Continue reading Your armrest is sooo 20th century

 

[via] Autoblog

AutoblogGreen for 01.11.07

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While at the NAIAS, AutoblogGreen writer Sam Abuelsamid sat down with two representatives from GM and interviewed them about the exterior and the interior of the Chevy Volt concept. Check out the philosophical and practical thoughts that went into creating the look of this car. Also, and one of our readers commented, the Volt just might end up with three power sources: batteries, ICE generator and taxpayers.

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Volvo XC70

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Volvo's adding some truckish cues to the XC70's exterior in celebration of its move to the EUCD platform. The shiny accents around the fog lamps, along the rockers, and in the rear fascia recall some ambulance conversions we've seen. The Tupperware theme of the current XC is carried over to the new wagon: we wish they'd stop. It looks okay when the car's new, but once a couple of years have passed the plastic looks chalky and takes on a mackerel pattern. The V70 wagon is handsome, the XC has always looked like its buck-toothed cousin; this trend continues. For 2008, Volvo's added a retainer-esque piece of shinyness to the chin spoiler, and the grille has grown significantly.

[Source: Teknikensvarld, in Swedish]

Continue reading Spy Shots: Volvo XC70

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: 2008 Hyundai Veracruz B-roll

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Here's a look at what is obviously company-produced "b-roll" video for the 2008 Hyundai Veracruz, which was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show this week. A B-roll is produced for advertising and news sources to use and generally portrays the vehicle being used just as the company designed it to be. In this case, mainly between the curbs with very light off-road use.

After seeing the Veracruz in person, we can say that it appears Hyundai has a potential winner on its hands. Naturally, sales will tell us whether or not we're right, but we think there's room at the table for a crossover with as much style as this one shows inside and out. ENJOY!

[Source: YouTube]

 

[via] Autoblog

AutoBlog Q&A: General Motors and the blogs

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During the North American International Auto Show here in Detroit this year, General Motors hosted a group of bloggers, many from non-automotive focused web sites. I was invited to participate in the program including the interviews that were scheduled with various GM executives, such as the group discussion we had with vice-chairman Robert Lutz. It's Weblogs, Inc. policy not to accept any payment from companies we cover, so we pay our own way all the time. I did however take advantage of the opportunities for interviews that you can find here and on AutoBlogGreen. Towards the end of the press previews, I sp ent a few minutes talking to Bill Betts, GM's Manager of Web Services about their blogger program.

AB: Bill, what is GM doing with bloggers this year in conjunction with the auto show and outside of the auto show as well?

BB: Well we're inviting and encouraging bloggers to cover certain events here at the auto show, sort of tailored to their areas of interest in particular. It might be trends, it might be autos themselves, it might be design, and what we're trying to do is increase our visibility and get into the new media and say, you know, we want to embrace those people who are out there in the new media. We've done it with our own blogs and we know that other bloggers are interested in our products.

AB: Is this the first time that General Motors has done this on such a wide scale or done it at all?

BB: Well this is th e largest group we've had involved in an auto show to this point. We started with a small group in Los Angeles last fall, but it's something that will be ongoing I'm sure.

Read the rest of Bill Betts' comments after the jump

Continue reading AutoBlog Q&A: General Motors and the blogs

 

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Mercedes replaces US sales veep

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Mercedes-Benz USA has accepted the resignation of Keith May, Vice President of Sales since joining the company in 2000, who is leaving "to pursue other interests". May will be replaced by Mark McNabb, former Vice President of Marketing for MBUSA.

McNabb joined Mercedes-Benz as marketing chief last February, coming from Nissan's Tokyo office. Previous titles also include VP and GM of Nissan and Infiniti brands in the United States.

Until Mercedes names a successor to McNabb as VP of marketing, he will perform both jobs.

[Source: Automotive News (sub req'd)]

 

[via] Autoblog

IROC not rockin' at all in Daytona for '07

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For only the seventh time in the series' 30-year history, the International Race of Champions series will not run as a part of SpeedWeek at Daytona this year.

Since the end of the sponsorship money pouring in from primary sponsor, Crown Royal, series president Jay Signore has been working feverishly to get a series sponsor signed in time to run the first race at Daytona for 2007, but that won't happen. They're hoping to have a sponsor signed soon enough to run a full 4-race series this year, beginning in Texas the weekend of April 13-15.

The IROC Series is a unique format that takes 12 drivers from different motorsports disciplines and provides them with equally-prepared cars to race on different tracks around the country for a $1 million dollar payout to the winner.

[Source: USA Today]

 

[via] Autoblog

Detroit Auto Show: A conversation with Ed Peper

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Ed Peper, Chevrolet GM, introduces the 2008 Chevy Malibu

Ed Peper, the General Manager of GM's Chevy division, has had a very good North American International Auto Show. It began with the unveiling of the Camaro Convertible concept at the automaker's celeb-studded kickoff event. It continued with a pair of awards for the new Silverado pickup truck and the reveal of the V olt concept, an exciting "green" vehicle concept that commanded everyone's attention. Finally, on the last day of the press preview, he introduced the completely-new 2008 Chevy Malibu, a stylish family sedan that is going to make waves when it's released later this year.

Through all of that Ed found time to sit down with us to talk about all the above and Chevrolet in general -- where it is now, and where it's headed. He's an engaging and enthusiastic ambassador for his brand, and he answered everything we threw his way, giving us insight into:
  • The feasibility of seeing a Volt-like production car
  • What kinds of powerrtrains we can expect for the Camaro
  • How closely the production Camaro's appearance mirrors the concept's
  • How Chevy will use the SS brand going forward
  • When we should (or, more importantly, shouldn't) expect to see the next Impala
  • Thoughts on the potential impact of the new Toyota Tundra in a segment that Chevy and the other domestics dominate
It begins below and continues after the jump. Enjoy.

Ed Peper - Division General Manager, Chevrolet
North American International Auto Show
January 8, 2006

Autoblog: Ed, thanks for being with us. Obviously, you're having a good show. Talk to us about yesterday (Sunday, 1/7) and the night before and how that worked out for the Chevrolet brand.

Ed Peper: We are really excited to start the show with the GM style event on Saturday night and it was just a great collection of designs and stars and music kind of all put together. And for the final vehicle to come down that runway and be the Camaro convertible concept in Hugger Orange with (gunmetal) blue stripes -- it was just an incredible moment to come down that runway to a standing ovation. It was just great.

Continue reading Detroit Auto Show: A conversation with Ed Peper

 

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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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He's Audi 5000*: Bernhard leaves VW

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After all the speculation and rumors, Volkswagen announced today that Wolfgang Bernhard will be leaving his post as Chairman of the Volkswagen brand and vacating his seat on Volkswagen AG's Board of Management. A true professional to the end, Bernhard put in his two weeks and will be leaving on January 31st. The company has been no doubt preparing for his exit, as we've known for some time that recently appointed Chairman of Volkswagen AG, Martin Winterkorn, has been planning a reorginization of the company's management. We're sure he's got a successor for Bernhard already picked out. Nevertheless, Winterkorn will assume Bernhard's duties as VW's head honcho until his replacement is named.

Bernhard's shoes will be tough to fill. He joined Volkswagen in February of 2005 and has been running VW since May of that year. He was b rought in to whip the brand into shape by increasing productivity, lowering costs and improving quality. Most would say he succeeded in his task, though is leaving before the job is really finished. Where will Wolfie go now? Can't say we know for sure, but DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche is probably blowing up Bernhard's pager right now.

Check out VW's official statement on the matter after the jump.

[Source: VW]

Related posts:
Will the prodigal Bernhard return to Chrysler?
WSJ reports Wolfgang Bernhard leaving VW
Wolfgang Berhnard will be a no-show in Detroit
Ex-DaimlerChrysler dude joins VW

*Audi 5000

Continue reading He's Audi 5000*: Bernhard leaves VW

 

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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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CES 2007: The Cars of CES Part III

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In Part III you get a Qvale, a Bentley, a speaker-and-LCD-filled Mercedes and a bright blue BMW that either has a horrible mass of malignancy growing in the back seat, or a speaker box that resembles, um, what the hell does it resemble? Oh and a few pics of West Coast Customs' primer black two-door CLS. Sweet. The highlight, however, has got to be the convertible version of Jeff Gordon's NASCAR ride. Bill France, if you're reading this, we really want to see these things on the track. Either in its own class or right there alongside the coupe versions. Just imagine the excitement (not to mention dealer sales) these cars could bring to the NASCAR brand. Get back to us, we've got some ideas about helmet-optional motorcycle racing too.

Enjoy this gallery of 30 high-res 1280x photos from CES.

Btw, we do apologize for the lack of full-on shots from CES. The place is so crowded, it's very difficult to get decent shots without someone walking into the frame. We tried mace, a large stick, even some guy named Guido we found on the Strip to try to keep people out of our shots, but, as you might imagine, CES officials were unhappy. Next year, we're thinking positive reinforcement. Maybe distract the crowds with cookies. Or swag bags full of USB drives.

 

[via] Autoblog