New colors for Mustang

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Ford Mustang in Grabber Blue

Ford Mustang in Amber GoldHere's a scoop that we missed last month: Check out these spy shots a GrabberOrange.net forum member snagged of two colors we presume to be headed for the '08 Mustang. If that's indeed the case, buyers will soon be able to select the extremely retro-cool heritage color, Grabber Blue, recently showcased on the Galpin BOSS Mustang at SEMA. The other new shade is an equally old-school-looking Amber Gold, which should find its share of fans as well. Here's hoping they're intended for sale to the public in the near future.

Click on over to GrabberOrange.net for the skinny on when and where the snaps were taken.

[Source: GrabberOrange.net via MustangBlog]

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Renault keyless entry keeps you from freezing your nuts off

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Anyone who's lived in a cold climate can appreciate not having to take out a key when the thermometer drops below freezing. Keyless entry is good, but a keycard that stays in your pocket is even better, as demonstrated in this commercial from Renault, which makes the argument painfully obvious.

Follow the jump to learn a good lesson about keeping all extremities covered in those cold winter climes.

[Source: Winding Road]

Continue reading VIDEO: Renault keyless entry keeps you from freezing your nuts off

 

[via] Autoblog

Lotus going Dutch? Spyker mulls acquisition

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Poor Lotus is the orphan child of the automotive industry. The small British sportscar maker has bounced around owners so often, it would make your head spin trying to connect the dots. After company founder Colin Chapman tragically died in 1982, the company has been bought and sold by General Motors, erstwhile Bugatti entrepreneur Romano Artioli, and currently by Malaysian state-owned automaker Proton. Like GM and Bugatti before it, Proton has failed to capitalize on the Lotus name and is reportedly looking to offload it to an interested third party.

Next up to the plate is Spyker, the independent Dutch exotic carmaker that seems to always be looking for a way to up its prestige. Apparently purchasing a Formula One team - from Midland steel, who had failed to make a go of it - was not enough for Spyker. Having stated its interest in acquiring another prestigious mark, Spyker is now reportedly looking to buy Lotus.

The partnership would be utilized in bringing the upcoming D12 "super sport utility vehicle" to market, as well as future Spyker models, and part of production would shift to England as a result. That part makes enough sense, as Lotus has a long history of engineering consulting for a wide range of automakers. But what makes Spyker think it's got more fortune (in terms of cash and good luck) than General Motors, the Italian mafia (allegedly) and the Malaysian state government is beyond us.

Thanks for the tip, Sjoerd!

[Source: AutoWeek.nl]

 

[via] Autoblog

Kia planning Audi TT rival

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click above image to view a full gallery of the Kia ex_cee'd concept

At this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, Kia will debut a concept sports car aimed squarely at the Audi TT. A production version of the concept could go into production by 2009, according ot Auto Express. These are bold plans for the South Korean automaker, but it has a secret weapon in design director Peter Schreyer, who was the designer behind the original Audi TT. The codename for Kia's project is Snowflake, which sounds very similar to Raindrop, the codename used for the original TT when Schreyer was with Audi. The TT-killa is expected to be offered in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive, and powered by a new 2.0L turbo-four currently under development.

Kia has no doubt been on a roll the last few years, and it's becoming increasingly evident that its success is not simply a matter of riding the coattails of parent company Hyundai. Kia was always meant to be the sporting brand in Hyundai's little empire, but its current product portfolio doesn't support that image at all. The brand did manage to show a suprisingly sporty and very attractive concept at the recent Geneva Motor Show with the ex-cee'd convertible concept (shown above). The response to the drop-top's design in our comments was overwhelmingly positive, so we have high hopes for another Schreyer-designed sports car from Kia.

[Source: Auto Express]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog Podcast #60 [Enhanced]

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Autoblog Podcast #60 [Enhanced] is hot off the encoder and ready for consumption. We've now included the enhanced version of the podcast with video in our RSS feed, so if you're a subscriber to the audio-version of the Autoblog Podcast, the enhanced version should automatically arrive at your door, as well.

Check it out, if you have any suggestions on how to improve the enhanced version of the Podcast, let us know in the comments.

SUBSCRIBE to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
DOWNLOAD the show to your desktop
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

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shot: Mercedes CLS facelift

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With Porsche's four-door coupe nearing production and Aston Martin readying the Rapide, it's easy to forget the one that started it all has been on the market since 2004. The shape of the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is still one of most striking on the market, but DCX evidently reckons that by the time the fourth year roles around, it'll be time for a few cosmetic changes.

This disguised test mule was caught undergoing cold weather testing somewhere in Europe. We can see the from the photo that the updated CLS will get a new grille mimicking that of its big-coupe counterpart, the CL, plus a new set of taillights and a new rear bumper around back. It'd also be safe to assume some changes will be made to the interior, and some new rims should round out the package. The arguably least attractive element of the design, the strangely-shaped headlights, will evidently carry over unchanged, though.

The revised CLS-Class should be hitting the market sometime in 2008, ready to hold its own against the onslaught of future competitors in the four-door coupe niche market. Click the Read link to check out additional uncropped spy shots of the next MB CLS.

[Source: World Car Fans]

 

[via] Autoblog

China Reversal: Tiger Truck opens plant in Texas

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While other manufacturers are hurrying to move factories and parts suppliers to China, Chinese truck maker ChangAn is going the other way. Dallas-based Tiger Truck, the exclusive US importer of ChangAn vehicles, has announced plans to open an assembly plant in Jasper, TX. Tiger's vehicles are for off-road uses here in the US - applications such as groundskeeping, farming, and manufacturing. Tiger CEO Mike Ward is reportedly happy to be hiring U.S. workers and seeking contracts with US OEM suppliers. Tiger will be building two new platforms, the Champ full-size pickup, and a medium-duty truck with gross vehicle weights from 14,000 to 21,000 pounds. Tiger's trucks are EPA/CARB certified, as well as meeting frontal crash-test standards. The drivetrain options are wide-ranging, from 2WD to 4WD, hybrid, diesel, even electric. Tiger is serious about equipping work trucks, and there are all sorts of options and accessories available.

Initially, most of the Jasper plant's output will be for export, but the Tiger folks have designed growth into their plant. The Texas location is good for Tiger's exporting efforts to South America and the Carribean, as well as shipping to all points in the U.S. from their very own rail spur. The 100 employees will be capable of cranking out 7,500 vehicles per shift, according to Tiger's PR materials. If the dealer network and popularity of Tiger products grows, we'd expect to see the operation grow. Even if they're not for on-road use, we can see how these vehicles would be extremely useful, and we're encouraged by the decision to locate in the U.S. and employ U.S. workers, as well as involving U.S. OEMs.

Thanks to tipster Dan!

[Source: PR Inside]

Continue reading China Reversal: Tiger Truck opens plant in Texas

 

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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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March Madness: GM brings back 0% financing and cash rebates

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General Motors has decided to bring back 0% and reduced-rate financing on many of its models to save its sales efforts for March. No doubt the General is keen on putting up positive numbers for the month to compliment the other bits of good news that have signaled its turnaround may have turned the corner. The new incentives start today and include 0% financing for 36 months and reduced-rate financing for up to 72 months, in addition to an extra $1,000 rebate that can also be used by the customer. The vehicles eligible for the new incentives, which will last through April 3rd, include the usual suspects, as well as the new 2007 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, which is a bit of a surprise. The automaker no doubt senses an opportunity to hit its main rival, the Ford F-150, where it hurts. Considering the current F-150 is now an older model than the new GMT900 trucks from GM, as well as the new Toyota Tundra, its position as King of the Hill in the truck country is in serious jeopardy this year.

[Source: Automotive News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Ford earns poor marks on own internal report card

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We're getting mixed signals from Ford. One week ago the automaker announced it was distributing bonuses to every single one of its salaried and hourly workers, just to say thanks for helping the company reduce costs, improve quality and reduce the ranks. Today we learn that Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields has told his workforce in a weekly webcast that the company earned poor marks on its own internal report card. The poor marks resulted from missing sales targets and not cutting material costs enough in February. We were under the impression that successful cost cutting was one of the reasons for paying out at least $36 million dollars in bonuses to its workers.

We made the argument last week, and again in this week's podcasts, that we bet many Ford workers would much rather have their bonus money go back into the company to ensure all the right moves are made during these uncertain times and their jobs remain secure. This seems even more evident today in light of Ford's failing to meet its own targets for February. Those many millions could pay for the next niche vehicle that sparks a renaissance, or any number of things that could help save the company. Heck, it could pay for a Taurus SHO!

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: BMW M3 Sedan and Convertible

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While the BMW M3 Coupe was all-but unveiled in Geneva, we have had to rely on spy photographers for images of the M3 Sedan and Cabrio. Hans Lehmann has captured a few shots of each for Winding Road, and you can see them in all their Technicolor splendor by clicking through the read link.

We're still not sure when and where the production M3 sedan will make its debut, but Frankfurt or even New York are still possibilities. As we told you before, the sedan will get a front fascia that is nearly identical to the one on the coupe, and since the coupe is both sleek and mean at the same time, this can only be taken as a very good thing. Knowing a 400ish-horsepower V8 is under the hood makes it even better.

The cabrio pics show the metal drop-top to be a handsome beast, as well. That's to be expected since the hardtop allows it to mimic the lines of the coupe to a tee.

We are guessing the sedan will appear by the end of the year and that we'll have to wait until spring 2008 for the convertible M3. But wait we will, with bated breath.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

STUDY: Video driving games promote risky behavior in real life

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Does a three-hour marathon session of Burnout Revenge on the Xbox 360 give you the urge to go wreak automotive havoc on an unsuspecting public? Perhaps not, but you might be more inclined to run a red light or wantonly speed according to a new study that confirms the correlation between racing games and risky behavior behind the wheels. While surveys have been done to establish this correlation in the past, this is one of the first hardcore studies conducted to back up this theory.

Conducted by Peter Fischer at Ludwig-Maximilians University and the Allianz Center for Technology in Germany (Allianz is one of the largest insurance companies in the world), the study took a very scientific approach. Published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, it began with interviewing a number of subjects on their driving habits and how often they played video games that featured driving in a real-world setting. Next, researchers actually compared the effect of playing games like Burnout, Midnight Racer and Need for Speed on the brain. It was found that such games did increase cognitions that relate to risk taking and arousal/excitement. Finally, the study gauged whether these types of driving games actually translated into risk-taking behavior by using the widely accepted Vienna Test System. Sure enough, it was found that men (though not women) were more likely to take risks in traffic after playing these games.

The linked article from Arstechnica makes the good point that the study steered clear of driving games like Project Gotham Racing, Forza and Gran Turismo that take place on virtual tracks in controlled environments. Such games, if studied, might be found to promote increased motor skills and concentration since the goal is to get the best lap time and not run over granny in your Gremlin.

What's worrisome, however, is if the correlation between these types of driving games might eventually give the insurance industry cause to increase rates for gamers that like to indulge in a little Grand Theft Auto.

[Source: Arstechnica]

 

[via] Autoblog

We can't count: GM admits internal accounting is off

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If you pay attention to the Business section of the newspaper, then you're no doubt aware of how many public companies have been restating their earnings as of late. You can thank the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 for that, which was passed in the wake of accounting scandals at such companies as Enron, WorldCom and Tyco. General Motors has restated its earnings in the recent past, and in its annual 10-K report of results for 2006 revealed that its ability to effectively and accurately report its finances is inadequate.

This might sound like a shocker, that a company doesn't have the resources to accurately report its numbers to shareholders and the public, but Sarbanes-Oxley changed the accounting game in a big way and major corporations are still trying to catch up to its requirements. GM has vowed to address the problem by hiring six new accounting officers and restructuring its accounting and tax departments. Throwing bodies at the problem is really the only solution, as it's a practical impossibility in many cases for a company as large as GM to keep track of every single penny on its balance sheet. Nevertheless, it's required to at least try and that's what it's doing. Don't expect accounting errors to go away overnight, however. As long as the automaker is forthcoming about errors and moves to correct them quickly, however, these snafus aren't likely to affect its stock price or image with investors.

[Source: Money.cnn.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Double-O Uh-Oh! Ford forced to yank "Casino Royale" ad for Focus

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We bring you yet another example of people getting bent out of shape over what appears to us as innocuous advertising. This time it's Ford of Europe, which has been running a commercial for its Focus Zetec Climate model using clips from the movie Casino Royale. As we all know, Ford had great product placement in the new Bond flick, which featured Aston Martin's new DBS as 007's main ride, as well as a new Ford Mondeo as his rental car of choice. Unfortunately, some people complained that this new commercial is misleading, insinuating by association that the Focus Zetec Climate appeared in Casino Royale, which they reason would make it more attractive to some.

If you buy a car because you think it's in a movie that you obviously haven't even seen, then you're a piss poor shopper. Though most consumers aren't that dumb, Ford has been ordered by the Advertising Standards Agency to quit running the commercial just in case someone out there believe Bond rolls in a Focus. Sigh.

You can see if the commercial is misleading for yourself after the jump.

[Source: Guardian.co.uk, Carscoop]

Continue reading Double-O Uh-Oh! Ford forced to yank "Casino Royale" ad for Focus

 

[via] Autoblog

Pre-production Lancia Fulvia could be heading to Frankfurt

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With nearly all of its other sister companies - Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari, Fiat and even Abarth - getting on track, the attention at the Fiat group should be turning to its ailing Lancia division next. But don't expect Fiat to drag its feet about it much longer, as Lancia may have a new car ready to show us as soon as September.

Emerging reports suggest that Lancia is preparing a new Fulvia, in full pre-production guise, for the upcoming Frankfurt motor show in the fall. The last time we saw a Fulvia it was the show car above, a retro styling exercise from the Lancia Centro Stile, that didn't make it to production because they didn't have the money or the right platform on which to build it. But the Fiat group has headed into a new era of growth, and the time may be coming for a new Fulvia to spearhead Lancia's regeneration.

Insiders suggest that instead of the retro-styled Fulvia concept from 2003, the new car will feature a thoroughly modern design. This should be interesting.

[Source: WindingRoad]

 

[via] Autoblog

Mexican Hertz charges $500 for flat tire

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Imagine you're on vacation. You rent a car for your month-long stay in Mexico. You feel pretty comfortable passing on the optional insurance and go along on your merry way. All goes well until one stormy evening. Somewhere in the night you have a blowout. You phone it in and the people at Hertz tell you, "No problem, just bring it back and we'll replace the tire." Done. Report filed, agent tells you no worries again, there won't be any charges.

You finish your vacation and return to the airport to drop off your little blue Chevy. But there's a slight hitch. The manager now insists you fork over an additional $60 for the tire damage. Not wanting to miss your flight, you agree and go on home. You probably see how this is going to end up. Rather than adding $60, which was already more than you felt you should have had to pay, the final charge for the rental shows an additional $499.48. Zoinks!

This very sad tale was recently reported by one unhappy customer identified only as Kathy on the consumer advocate site, Consumerist. When the inflated bill arrived, she contacted the company and Hertz allegedly told her that it is fully in keeping with standard practices of the car rental industry in most countries. Oh really? $500 seems a bit steep for a tire, even in Mexico. And for a manager to say $60 and then charge $500? We don't suspect that is standard operating procedure for any rental agency.

As far as we know the issue hasn't been resolved, but suggestions have been made to contact her credit card company and possibly approach the problem as fraud, because the employees had said no charge, then $60 before charging an unauthorized $499.48. Perhaps this serves as a warning to carefully consider rental insurance options, especially while abroad, or maybe just to steer clear of Hertz and its impressively expensive tires.

[Source: Consumerist]

 

[via] Autoblog

In the Autoblog Garage: 2007 Chevy Aveo LT

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2007 Chevy Aveo LT
Click image for a gallery of 52 photos

With cars, first impressions carry a lot of influence. Bad first impression? Then it's on to the next candidate. But when a car connects at that first meeting, you're inclined to hang around a bit to see what else it has to offer. And so goes the story of my time with the Chevy Aveo.

The Aveo arrived after we spent a week with the luxurious and capable Cadillac SRX. To say that personally-held expectations regarding the rebadged Daewoo were low would be understating the matter. The previous generation, despite being a strong seller for GM, was stylistically uninspiring, and it would not have been the least bit surprising to find more of the same in the new one. Upon taking delivery of Autoblog's shiny blue loaner, we were taken aback. The Aveo, you see, makes quite a good first impression.

Continue reading In the Autoblog Garage: 2007 Chevy Aveo LT

 

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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: Next Pontiac Vibe to be renamed G and debut in New York

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Looks like Pontiac might be losing their Vibe for 2008. And we don't mean the two versions of the Vibe they already killed off. What will be showing up in its place is likely to be a similar vehicle, but the name will change. In place of "Vibe" we are likely to get a "G" something or other, to fit with the current naming formula being employed within Pontiac. Maybe we will get the VVT-i versions back if they release a GT down the road.

There's also a spy photo of the new vehicle courtesy of KGP Photography, and although it is heavily cloaked at the front and rear, you can see a revised side that somehow manages to be different and the same all at once. Think evolution instead of revolution. Rumor has it Toyota will again get its own version of this vehicle, but we aren't sure whether or not it will retain the "Matrix" moniker. "Vibe" might be available, if they're interested.

[Source: The Car Connection]

 

[via] Autoblog

Mixed messages: Chery and Chrysler get their PR wires crossed

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There seems to be some confusion over what vehicle Chrysler will choose to sell in North America from the Chery lineup. We recently shared speculation that the renamed A1 would be the most likely Chery to carry a Dodge badge in small car segments around the globe. It seems, however, that nobody actually knows which of six Chery models Chrysler will choose.

The latest twist came on the heels of an announcement by Chery that identified the A1 as being its first collaboration with Chrysler, to be shown at the Shanghai Motor Show in April. But the official Xinhua news reported Chery saying, "The A1 would be the first of at least six small vehicle models to be manufactured by Chery with the cooperation of Chrysler."

Not so fast, says Chrysler. The U.S. automaker insists that it hasn't even decided which model it wants to use, and that there are only intentions to use one model. But Mike Aberlich, a Chysler corporate spokesperson, told just-auto that these issue are still being worked out, going to say, "We know what model it will be but we haven't announced it yet."

Ah, well that clears things up nicely. We'll keep you posted about this potential Fit fighter, whatever it ends up being.

[Source: just-auto]

 

[via] Autoblog

Nissan's Motegi test center goes off-roading

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three high-res pics available by clicking image above

Looks like Nissan is SHIFTing even more heavily into its truck development. With the popularity of crossovers, SUVs and pickups expected to stay strong, Nissan decided to add an off-road test facility to its Motegi proving grounds. Today they opened that extreme off-road track in the Tochigi Prefecture facility. At 2.3 hectares, it is said to be one of the largest tracks in Japan. Is that the same as a parsec?

The new track segments were "designed to replicate different real-world driving conditions from across the world." It includes a rocky section simulating rough mountain terrain, a desert road and a 30-degree incline slope. The obvious advantage of having such a facility is to test four-wheel drive systems, but also to do it in a safe and controllable environment. Being able to replicate tests with a great degree of accuracy and having control over the conditions makes this a nice addition to any test center.

[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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Nissan nixes plan for Heavy-Duty Titan pickup

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It looks like the challenges in the heavy-duty pickup truck market is too intense for Nissan, who has decided to steer clear of the potentially lucrative, yet highly-competitive, market. Heavy duty offerings from the Detroit three come in several different configurations to suit virtually every need, and Nissan seems to feel that they would have trouble selling enough HD trucks to make it worth their while. The scribes over at Pickuptruck.com quote Nissan as pointing out data that shows only one in three truck owners would consider a foreign truck. With limited sales opportunities, Nissan would have trouble matching higher-volume manufacturers on price, including domestics that will pile on incentives in order to move their bread and butter trucks.

Nissan has plenty of reasons for their decision, yet we think if the Titan had lived up to its lofty sales goals there would be an HD version on the way.

[Source: Pickuptruck.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Tesla sedan won't feature Ford chassis

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Looks like Tesla won't be dipping into the Ford parts bin for its upcoming all-EV family sedan, at least not very heavily. The Silicon Valley-based green carmaker had been rumored to be considering the Fusion/Milan/MKZ platform for its new 4-door flyer. Tesla Motors, however, has reiterated that it has no plans to use any outside firm for such a large part of its so-called "WhiteStar" project.

But the rumors persist. Ward's Auto, for one, has reportedly pointed out how easy it would be to use Ford's CD3 platform, because the vehicles are built at the nearby Ford plant in Hermosillo, Mexico. To that claim, Tesla spokesman David Vespremi admitted they may have used some minor assemblies from Ford on the Roadster, but that they will definitely not share whole platforms with any major automaker. Tesla plans to open a $35 million facility in Albuquerque and will work directly with suppliers rather than OEMs for the Roadster and upcoming WhiteStar projects.

The Roadster has garnered a lot of attention, and more importantly, a lot of orders for this tiny company. The Lotus Elise-inspired sports car has shown that you can have lots of driving fun while still being green, with a 0-60 mph time around four seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. Those lithium-ion batteries also provide a reasonable range of up to 250 miles, although likely not after a day of blasts to 60. Expanding the lineup to include this expected $50-60,000 sedan and potentially a crossover will only broaden their appeal.

[Source: The Car Connection]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Mitsubishi EVO X

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Hot on the heels of Mr. Baines' video of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X hitting the streets, one of the photogs under the employ of our favorite snapper, Brenda Priddy, was able to catch the new EVO during a rare stationary moment.

As expected, there is little to distinguish this prototype from the concepts we've seen in the past. The gaping maw is flanked by large side intakes, sporting fog lamps, while the rear wing sprouts up from the camo-clad trunk lid. It's hard to discern through the covering whether or not the blistered fenders are as chunky as the IX's are, but judging by the concept, they'll be less angular and more integrated.

With a new 2.0L turbo, a thoroughly reworked all-wheel-drive setup and more electronic gadgetry than the Hubble, we're salivating at the hoonage potential of the next iteration of the EVO. And yes, it will be relevant, thank you very much.

[Source: Left Lane News]

 

[via] Autoblog

AutoblogGreen for 03.16.07

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Is that your new VW? AutoBild says that there is a rendering of the new sub-Fox Smart challenger, so if you're looking for a new VW to tool around the city with, imagine this one parked outside the apartment. And there were an inordinate number of Tesla sightings yesterday (OK fine, two), including Cameron Diaz at TED and a light blue one being tested in the UK.

 

[via] Autoblog

Ghosn limits his duties in the Americas, Nissan makes production cuts at home

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Carlos Ghosn, the current head of both Nissan and Renault, maintains that a "crisis" is underfoot in Japan. The man who is credited with slashing and burning his way to profitability has recognized that operations at both a production and management level, cannot remain that same. So in early April, he'll be handing over control of Nissan's North and South American operations to Hiroto Saikawa.

Saikawa, currently the Executive veep at Nissan, maintains that relinquishing Ghosn from his duties in the West will allow him to focus on some of the problems at home -- primarily the 17th consecutive month of lost sales Nissan is experiencing in Japan. In order to bring things back into order, the automaker plans to eliminate one shift from factories in both the Kanagawa and Tochigi prefectures, whittling down production at the plants to one shift per day.

More cuts will take place over the following months, along with a renewed focus on marketing and sales. Those efforts, partnered with revisions to the sales forecast in 2007, will hopefully bring things back into balance for the third largest automaker in Japan. How these cuts may affect Nissan's presence in the U.S. remains to be seen, but with few new models being debuted this year, the North American market will do little to get Nissan back on the horse.

[Sources: Automotive News - Sub. Req., Bloomberg]

 

[via] Autoblog

Toyota's head in Texas moving on to greener pastures

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Toyota Motor Manufacturing's Texas President Hidehiko "T.J." Tajima is leaving the Lone Star state for Japan to begin his new role running Toyota's corporate social responsibility activities. Tojima's job over the past few years was to oversee the production of the new San Antonio Tundra plant, which had some serious cash overrun problems. Initial costs were projected at $850 million for the 200,000 unit capacity plant, but final costs were $1.28 billion. Production issues also reared their ugly head during Tajima's reign, with the timing of Toyota's new 5.7L V8 not aligning with the start of Tundra production.

Company officials say that the ballooning costs of the Tundra plant had nothing to do with Tojima's move back to Japan, but we think it will be tough for Tojima to drop an unscheduled $500 million in his new role.

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

 

[via] Autoblog

Aston Martin developing a DBX?

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With the ink still moist on the purchase agreement for Aston Martin, there are some interesting developments already. As we've heard ad nauseum previously, David Richards of Prodrive, along with Texas banker John Sinders, and the Kuwaiti Investment Dar and Adeem Investment have taken a 90% stake in the company. Prodrive and Aston will stay separate, but Richards will get a seat on the board of directors, while Ulrich Bez will remain Chief Executive. The Gaydon plant will soldier on and possibly expand to make room for, wait for it, some new models.

The Rapide has been confirmed, with annual production of 1,000-2,000 units a year expected. Before that hits dealers, however, there should be a new, new DBS. "This will be different from the car that appeared in the latest James Bond film, and it won't be a direct replacement for the Vanquish either, because we prefer to carve out a new identity for the car," Bez explained. "However, it will be our flagship product, and it will use our VH platform."

Very interesting news, as we expected a Vanquish-ized DB9 in that slot. But it gets even better. Bez also mentioned in passing a new DBX. Rather than taking this as a mention of a DB9 replacement, his follow-up comment had the Autocar staff on the edge of their seats. "In the long term, we have to look for growth beyond the current range of cars," said Bez. Immediate thoughts of a Cayenne or Range Rover competitor came to mind. Perhaps it was the "X," but with their new association with Prodrive and the continued connection to Ford and PAG, anything is possible. Of course it could still be a new DB9 replacement that simply heads in a slightly different direction, say, by adding AWD, perhaps?

[Source: AutoCar via Coolbrit]

 

[via] Autoblog

Audi R10 lowers track record at Sebring by a second

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Click on the photo for a gallery of high-res shots from Sebring

The updated 2007 Audi R10 TDi is continuing to dominate in qualifying for the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Marco Werner driving the #2 R10 shaved almost almost a full second off the lap record for the race he won in 2003 and 2004. After winning last years ALMS opener in the R10's debut, Dindo Capello, got the outside of the front row for the second Audi. Capello missed a chance at the pole when the practice session was interrupted while he was going for a hot lap. The German diesels will lose some of their fuel economy advantage in the race due a reduction in fuel tank size from 90 to 81 liters. The race starts at 10AM Saturday at Sebring. The Audi press release is after the jump.

[Source: Audi]

Continue reading Audi R10 lowers track record at Sebring by a second

 

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Spy Shots: Jaguar XF

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With the sale of Aston Martin, Ford has disposed of the only profitable division in its British portfolio. However, that frees up the automaker to turn it's full attention to the Coventry Cat. We got a pretty good look at Jaguar's new design language in the form of a concept version of the S-Type replacement when Jaguar unveiled the C-XF in Detroit in January. Ever since then, photos of camo-covered prototypes have been popping up all over the web. Australian site Drive.com.au has one of the clearest shots yet of the profile of the new XF, and aside from a slightly taller roof, it looks pretty close to the concept.

[Source: Drive.com.au]

 

[via] Autoblog