AutoblogGreen for 02.09.07

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Chicago Auto Show's least green vehicles? Right this way. An all-electric speed dart called the Silence? Just over there. Politicians and their questionable environmental policies? You got it. A carfree city? Why, I thought you'd never ask. Right through there. If you have more questions, just follow this map:

 

[via] Autoblog

White House drafts fuel economy bill

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The Bush administration has submitted a draft legislation that would allow regulators to raise fuel economy standards. The move follows a promise from President Bush to reduce fuel consumption by 20-percent in a decade. The Detroit Three meeting with President Bush may have paid off since the new draft legislation reflects Ford and GM's contention that fuel economy standards should be scaled to vehicle size instead of fleet-wide performance.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

 

[via] Autoblog

RIP: Buick Rainier

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As General Motors refines the future of their brands, they're trimming out redundancy and we have a hard time coming up with a more redundant vehicle than the multitude of GMT 360 based 'utes across all the GM brands.

The Buick Rainier is one version of this ubiquitous platform that no longer has any reason for living; thus, production will end during the second quarter of 2007. Buick's plan is to trim the lineup back to three or four models, while focusing on developing and turning them out extremely well. The focus of Buick's future is taking the brand further into luxury, rather than offering everything the other divisions do, but with plusher seats. The buying public has found religion with car-based CUVs, as well, so dropping the Rainier to focus on execution of the Enc lave is a shrewd move. Competition from other luxury brands, such as the Lexus RX vehicles, which have been based off car platforms since their inception are preferred by consumers and no amount of niceties inside will make up for the lumbering feel of a body-on-frame truck. Rather than have two vehicles vying for consumers hearts -- and confusing them in the process -- we laud the decision to lay the Rainier to rest.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

 

[via] Autoblog

Chrysler's Project X to claim 1, 000 white collar jobs, 10k hourly workers

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As soon as we heard about DC's Project X, we knew the hits to Chrysler employees were forthcoming, but we didn't expect them to be so large and so fast. According to the Detroit News, next week Chrysler Group will announce their intentions to layoff 1,000 salaried workers, along with 10,000 hourly workers from underperforming US plants.

The salaried workers are not under union contract so their eminent dismissal will be unfettered, while reduced shifts at select factories will see the layoff of factory workers, who, unlike Ford and GM, will not be offered buyouts or early retirements. However, unionized hourly workers will receive a cash payout of $50k or more, including a voucher that will allow them to buy a Chrysler vehicle.

All this, according to the Detroit News' sources, will accompany plant closures, possibly in Newark, Delaware where pickup trucks are produced, as well as an engine plant in Detroit. Other production cuts may include shift reductions in St. Louis, Mo., the Jefferson North plant in Detroit and plants in Windsor and Brampton, Ontario.

The official announcement will supposedly take place next week, when DaimlerChrysler begins to seriously divulge the plans included in their Orwellian sounding Project X.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Honda plant confirmed in Alabama

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Honda subsidiary Yutaka Technologies began construction on a transmission component factory in Cullman, Alabama in January. The plant will employ about 200 people and is part of a larger strategy to build several component-supplier factories to feed Honda's US manufacturing plants. There's new facilities going up in Georgia and Ohio in addition to the Alabama plant. The Cullman plant will start supplying torque converters and exhaust components to Honda's Lincoln, Alabama assembly plant in November. The Lincoln plant builds the Odyssey minivan and Pilot SUV, and Honda is shifting more Pilot production to the Alabama plant from its Ontario facility.

While many think of Honda as a foreign b rand, their cars are often no more foreign than the domestics. Building US-market cars in this country has been a winning proposition for Honda and the other foreign marques that have opened facilities here. Keeping US workers employed takes some of the teeth out of the "Buy American" argument. Also, astronomical shipping costs (we wouldn't want to get the bill to insure one of those shipments, let alone the actual freight cost) and import tariffs are also dodged by building cars here with parts sourced domestically. Honda has been building automobiles in the US for 25 years and the company employs over 30,000 people at their 12 manufacturing US facilities, which build everything from cars to ATVs and watercraft.

[Source: Honda]

 

[via] Auto blog

Scion quietly reveals 2008 tC

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Amidst the flurry of press surrounding the release of Scion's xD and xB, the refreshed tC got lost in the shuffle. For 2008, Scion made a some notable changes to its best selling coupe, with mildly revised styling, added safety features and an upgraded audio system.

On the styling side of things, a new mesh grille, blacked out headlamps and lower lattice work separate the new tC from its elders, along with two new colors for 2008: Sizzling Crimson Mica and Wave Line Pearl.

On the inside, Scion has made iPod connectivity standard across all of its models, via a Pioneer 160-watt head unit, while the optional premium audio setup allows users to download four- to eight-second clips that will display on the LCD readout.

Under the hood, the 2.4-liter inline four is still producing 161 HP and 162 lb.-ft. of torque, channeling power down to the front wheels via either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

Follow the jump for the full press release and be sure to check out the gallery by either click the image above or one of the pics below.

Gallery: 2008 Scion tC

Continue reading Scion quietly reveals 2008 tC

 

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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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Beater of the Day: 1989 Chevrolet Caprice 9C1 Police Package

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How could we possibly deny featuring a retired police Caprice that goes by the name of Big Momma? We can't. We tried, but it was useless.

Owned by Autoblog reader 787B (an admitted Wankel-lover), Big Momma's main use is to schlep a race-ready RX7 to and fro, along with all the prerequisite track day goodies - 5,000 pounds worth.

Big Momma is optioned out with all the law enforcement-required kit and since we couldn't put it better ourselves, we'll quote her owner's Flickr description: "...she has a thicker cop frame, fuel-injected 350 cop V8, massive cop brakes, thick cop anti-sway bars, cop oil cooler, cop trans cooler, cop 'bucket' seats, cop 3.42 gears, cop 3-core radiator, cop 120A alternator, cop shocks, cop springs, and cop attitude. She's ugly, she knows it [and] she's angry about it!"

He's also added some performance springs, Bilstein shocks and Airlift airbags to keep the weight distribution a bit more manageable. Unfortunately, Big Momma's cholesterol count got the better of her and that "fuel-injected 350 cop V8" finally gave in after 176,000 miles of dutiful service. But don't cry for Big Momma, she's getting a heart transplant soon.

Be sure to check out the pics after the jump (along with directions on how to submit your own ride), including one of the best sagging headliner solutions yet and, at the risk of overloading Mr. 787B's server, check out Big Momma's website here.

Continue reading Beater of the Day: 1989 Chevrolet Caprice 9C1 Police Package

 

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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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Carroll Shelby gives two-wheel tuning a try

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We love Carroll Shelby. You love Carroll Shelby. We all love Carroll Shelby. Repeat. We also love the cars that have the Shelby logo on them. Except, maybe a few of the Dodge products in the 80's. An Omni probably should never be called a Shelby. Anybody disagree? (Yes. I owned one. -Ed.)

Now, Shelby is getting in on the motorcycle craze. I happen to be a rider myself, and I can appreciate most every motorcycle on the market for one reason or another. This one, however, we have to dismiss. Would you put a Shelby logo on a lowrider Cadillac Fleetwood, even if it had a really big engine? No. And neither should it be applied to this low-riding, ill handling custo m bike. Just because it has a big, powerful V-Twin engine nestled tightly between it's downtubes doesn't mean it has performance credentials. Think back -- what did Shelby build his reputation on? Winning races, right? Would you take this bike to a track day and challenge the GSXR's and Ninja's in the corners? Neither would we, which is why this is not a real Shelby.

[Source: Gizmag]

 

[via] Autoblog

Will Al Melling and Nikolai Smolenski start bidding war for TVR?

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TVR Griffith

TVR SagarisYou may have noticed our post Wednesday about TVR's owner Nikolai Smolenski losing his trademark rights and certain tooling. Yesterday, it was revealed that the entire company is, in fact, for sale. Expected bidders include Al Melling and possibly even Nikolai Smolenski rebidding.

Al Melling recently reveale d his Melling Hellcat (could it be released as a TVR?), powered by a 1200 bhp, quad-turbo V10 engine, and has designed TVR V8 and in-line six-cylinder engines. He said, "I'd need the old workforce... it would take between six and 12 months to get the place back in full production, but I'd never expect to make more than 10-15 cars a week, two-thirds of which would be sold in the US." He also said the Sagaris and Griffith would be the two models they'd concentrate on.

Related:
[Source: Autocar]

 

[via] Autoblog

Reports: Get your MINI with AWD by 2008

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Following earlier rumors of an off-roading MINI Colorado, reports are surfacing that parent company BMW is preparing to offer all-wheel-drive on the full MINI range by 2008. The rumors stem from this week's edition of the German weekly Auto Motor und Sport, which stated that the upcoming stretched-out MINI Traveller/Clubman will be available with all-wheel drive, but that the feature would be extended to the entire Mini range - presumably including the hard-top, convertible and Clubman models - sometime in 2008.

The reports haven't been confirmed at this point, but the idea of an all-wheel-drive MINI is making us salivate already. All the more so if BMW were to enter the MINI in rally competitions. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and Subaru Impreza WRX STi may be getting new duds, but with all-wheel-drive hatch as stylish as the MINI presents a compelling case.

[Source: Motoring File]

 

[via] Autoblog

Chicago Auto Show: Chrysler Test Ride Video

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Click on the photo for a gallery of high-res images of the Chrysler Test Ride

At the Chicago Auto Show, Chrysler has a test ride area set up on the show floor so that visitors can go for a ride through one of three courses where the capabilities of the cars and trucks can be demonstrated. One course is set aside for the trucks and SUVs to simulate going over rough surfaces, steel beams and a thirty-five percent grade hill. There is also a course where the stability control, noise isolation and handled capabilities can be shown off. Autoblog went for a ride and brought along the handy-dandy CVS camcorder, so that if you don't happen to be in Chicago next week, you can experience it anyway. If Cobo Hall was a dark confined dum p, we might have been able to see this in Detroit as well. The videos are after the jump.

Continue reading Chicago Auto Show: Chrysler Test Ride Video

 

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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

[via] Autoblog

New Focus RS: It's coming back, in all its FF fury

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Here in the U.S., we haven't benefited from the hot hatch hysteria that has swept through Europe over the past several years. Our choices have been limited and even more so when it comes to domestic manufacturers. With the exception of the SVT Focus, Ford has never graced our shores with one of their hotted-up hatches, but still we yearn for some tire-smoking, turbocharged three-door action.

So without bemoaning the fact that we won't be getting the new RS, we'll just give you the facts, as they've been gathered by Autocar.

Continued after the jump...

[Source: Autocar]

Continue reading < em>New Focus RS: It's coming back, in all its FF fury

 

[via] Autoblog

MB's next major innovation: Vented Taillights?

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Back when my whip was a Volvo 740, I ventilated my taillights, too. Actually, it was more like drilling drain holes, but once all the trapped water escaped, you can bet that the compromised seal allowed plenty of air to flow through the lamp. Mercedes has applied intelligent thought to using the taillight as a hidden aerodynamic diffuser on the new C-Class, resulting in a slick Cd of .27. Instead of marring the design with some kind of tacky, nasty lip spoiler on the trunklid, the aerodynamic wunderkinds at MBZ have applied some clever trickery to keep the arse of their newest kostspieliges auto looking slick.

A lip spoiler changes the airflow behind the vehicle by interrupting the smooth flow coming over the top of the car. That interruption reduces lift. The problem with a spoiler, is that they require a specific shape to attain their spoiling effect, dictating styling direction. The C-Class engineers have taken an alternate route to addressing the vortices out back. The taillights act as diffusers, pulling air from underneath the vehicle and venting it out of slits in the lamps. The high pressure air under the car now has somewhere to go, which reduces lift. An elegant alternate solution that achieves the same result as the old spoiler. The air coming out of the taillight lenses also affects airflow along the sides of the car for the better, keeping turbulence behind the new C-Class down. We can't say how close you'll have to ride your bicycle to this thing to get sucked along by the bubble, or how badly it'll mess up your hair when it passes by, what with all that air blowing all over the place, bu t it sounds like a clever trick.

[Source: worldcarfans]

 

[via] Autoblog

Franco-American: Peugeot considers re-entering US market

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The American market is thirsty for diesels and for more fuel-efficient cars altogether. That's why PSA's recently-installed CEO Christian Streiff sees now as the perfect time to bring Peugeot back to the United States. And though he's new on the job, he's planning on pitching just that idea in a three-year plan for the company as early as May.

The last time Peugeot competed in the US market was over fifteen years ago, when the only model it sold was the 405 sedan. Since then, Peugeot's model range has broadened considerably to include even a crossover sport-ute (pictured) through partnership with Mitsubishi. If Peugeot decided to run the 908 LM racing car in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), it could position itself in the US market as the leader in efficient diesel technology like Audi did with the R10.

Peugeot is also a market leader in hard-top convertibles, a segment which is growing in popularity on American shores. If PSA decides to go ahead with the venture, it could be the best thing France has given America since the Statue of Liberty.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog

NHTSA to require two latches on sliding van doors

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What's $7 when a child's life might be at stake? That's the apparent message from the NHTSA to carmakers that build vehicles with sliding doors -- basically minivans. On Tuesday the NHTSA announced that these types of vehicles will now require a secondary latch to help prevent sliding doors from popping open in an accident and potentially expelling occupants. Nearly half of the 1.4 million vans sold in 2003 would be affected. Statistics on unbelted motorists being ejected from a vehicle are cited as reasons why this move is necessary. According to the Detroit News, 54,000 people are ejected in accidents each year, 15% through doors. That resulted in 20 deaths and 30 serious injuries annually from 1995 through 2003, the period under investiga tion.

Continues after the jump

[Source: Detroit News]

Continue reading NHTSA to require two latches on sliding van doors

 

[via] Autoblog

Chicago Auto Show: Chevy dealers go to Xtremes

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High-res gallery available by clicking image

The Chevy dealers of Chicagoland decided to add a little extra pizzazz to the Chicago Auto Show this year by toting out some of their best accessorized concept vehicles from the past few years -- cars and trucks that help customers see what they can do with their own Bowtied babies. Love it or hate it, the HHR is like Chrysler's PT Cruiser in more ways than one. It's also a blank canvas for customizers. While there were a few modded wagons on display, our favorite was the neo-Nomad white HHR two-door. Lowered and sporting a 270-horse 4-cylinder, this is one stylish, relatively understated ride. The rest of the dis play was a bit more Xtreme.

Continues after the jump

[Source: Chevy]

Continue reading Chicago Auto Show: Chevy dealers go to Xtremes

 

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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

[via] Autoblog

Ford bites MINI's flavour with UK "chequered flag" model

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Click to see one more photo

So, the Brits have made the Ford Fiesta a force on the sales charts for 30 years, and to celebrate, Ford's cooked up a loaded Zetec S "Anniversary" edition. The limited run of 400 cars is equipped with a 100-horsepower 1.6L Zetec, radian yellow paint, black mirrors, and some creature comforts like leather, A/C, and an MP3-ready auxiliary input jack. The icing on the cake, however, is the rooftop checkered chequered flag decal. Seriously.

Ford, MINI would like to have a word with you...

[Source: Ford]

Continue reading Ford bites MINI's flavour with UK "chequered flag" model

 

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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

[via] Autoblog

Attack of the Clones: New Citroën C-Crosser photos, info

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Click for hires photo gallery

Citroën's officially debuting its badge-engineered Mitsubishi Outlander clone, the C-Crosser, at Geneva next month. As such, more info and imagery is starting to flow from France. Of the two PSA Peugeot Citroen versions of the Mitsu, we like the appearance of the Citroen a lot more than its Peugeot stablemate. The pronounced chevrons are a lot easier on the eyes than Peugeot's "gaping maw" front-end look.

In terms of features, it's got essentially everything you can get on the Outlander. Also worth noting is that the Citroën offers a backup camera that will display the view behind the SUV on the nav screen -- a practical feature whose omission on the US car is curious, to say the least. We're sure it'll come if there's a demand for it stateside.

The launch engine, co-developed with Ford, is a 2.2L HDi diesel with particulate filter producing 160 horsepower (156HP EEC) and 280 lb-ft of torque. It can handle up to 30% biodiesel, is mated to a six-speed manual tranny, and fuel economy is a respectable 32.2 mpg in the combined cycle. New photos inside and out are available in the gallery below.

[Source: Citroen]

Continue reading Attack of the Clones: New Citroën C-Crosser photos, info

 

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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

[via] Autoblog

Diatto Ottovu Zagato set for Geneva debut

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Zagato is reported to have an impressive trick up its sleeve for the Geneva show next month: the revival of the Diatto marque, with a limited production sports coupe. Not much in the way of details is known at this point, but reports suggest the Diatto Ottovu Zagato will feature an aluminum construction and possibly a front-mounted supercharged V8 sourced from Maserati.

Diatto was among the original motor-carriage makers, starting out as a producer of horse-drawn carriages back in 1835, switching to automobiles in 1905 which it continued building through 1929. By then its illustrious list of clientele included kings and queens as well as Enzo Ferrari himself.

This won't be the first Diatto coachbuilt by Zagato: Diatto was among Zagato's first clients when the Italian design house re-bodied its automobiles over 85 years ago. And if the rumors are true, this won't be the first Diatto with a bit of Maserati inside, either: Alfieri Maserati cut his proverbial teeth working for Diatto before leaving to establish his own company in 1926.

Reviving long-lost classic marques has been all the rage in the automobile industry in recent years. We're hoping Zagato's new Diatto will come closer to Volkswagen's Bugatti than Mercedes' Maybach.

[Source: Italiaspeed]

 

[via] Autoblog

GM caves on robot suicide ad, changes ending

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We're not going to spend any considerable amount of time on this, since we are pretty exasperated by this whole ordeal (judging by the comments, apparently you are too).

GM has decided to "modify" their Robot ad after a complaint from the Foundation for Suicide Prevention deemed the spot unsympathetic to those who are plagued with depression. Any reference to suicide will be removed, along with the end sequence where our robotic protagonist leaps off a bridge.

The foundation has said that GM has been cooperative in the matter, which is a strong about face, considering Mark LaNeve was adamant that no changes would be made.

Sadly, the removal of "All By Myself" will not be forthcoming.

Thanks for the tip, TGM3.

[Source: Fox Sports]

 

[via] Autoblog

Prancing Steel Horse: custom Scuderia Ferrari chopper

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There are a lot of superlatives that could be equally applied to Ferraris and to custom choppers by their respective enthusiasts, and we're not going to try to name them all. But that's probably why there have been so many efforts to blend the two, with varied results.

One builder of custom choppers built a red stallion for Michael Schumacher upon his retirement. Another motorcycle craftsman built two one-off sport-bikes: one powered by a Ferrari V12 and another with a V8 out of a Ferrari 308. Even legendary custom bike designer Arlen Ness styled a chopper after the iconic Testarossa.

The latest crossover between the world of the steel stallion and the prancing horse is this custom chopper, powered by the 140-hp engine from the Triumph 955 Triple. The high-gloss red paintjob even comes complete with race livery, but after watching Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, we're surprised the builder didn't include the team's principle sponsor. The bike was recently up for sale on eBay for about fifteen grand.

Watch the video after the jump.

[Source: Motorpasion]

Continue reading Prancing Steel Horse: custom Scuderia Ferrari chopper

 

[via] Autoblog

Toyota worried about labor costs in U.S.

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Here's something you might have seen coming. We've talked about how labor costs have been one of the major factors cited as keeping the domestic automakers behind the 8-ball regarding profitability compared to Japanese competitors. Sure, there's more to it than that, but the fact remains that labor costs are high on the list. How does that effect foreign automakers that have domestic workforces? About how you'd expect. Toyota, for one, is warning that U.S. labor costs could severely curtail their profits in the not-too-distant future.

Continues after the jump

[Source: Freep]

Continue reading Toyota worried about labor costs in U.S.

 

[via] Autoblog