Monday, December 27, 2010

Mercedes-Benz Popular C-Class Sedan "Enhanced" For 2012 Model Year

The restyled 2012 C-Class sedan coming in C250, C300 4MATIC and C350 trim levels is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in the summer of 2011 with the front and rear end "enhanced with a more distinctive design". A total of more than 2,000 new parts distinguish the newest generation of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class from its predecessor. Five new driver assistance systems ranging from the ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection system through to the Blind Spot Assist are now available in the C-Class lineup. New- generation telematics offer new infotainment and navigation features.

The new V6 gasoline engine in the C350 Sport Sedan features the BlueDIRECT process and now generates 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque (previously 268 hp and 258 lb-ft), while fuel economy has been improved by 5 percent compared with the outgoing C350 model. The four-cylinder engine is new for the U.S. market featuring direct injection and turbocharger with combined fuel economy of 24 mpg, an improvement of nearly 15 percent compared with the 2011 model year C300 due to all-new direct-injection mated to the redesigned seven-speed automatic transmission with the gear ratios optimized for fuel economy.

The C-Class is Mercedes-Benz's highest volume model range with global sales of more than one million units since its launch in March 2007. Since the market introduction of the first C-Class in 1982, known then as the 190, Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 8.5 million vehicles around the world.

2012 BMW 650i Convertible & 2011 1 Series M Coupe Debut At NAIAS

BMW will unveil the new 2012 BMW 650i Convertible and the all-new BMW 1 Series M Coupe with the updated BMW 1 Series Coupe and Convertible in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show in two weeks. The new BMW 650i Convertible is powered by a 400 horsepower 4.4-liter V-8 engine which makes peak torque of 450 lb-ft between 1,750 and 4,500 rpm and is mated to an 8-speed Sport Automatic transmission. The new 650i Convertible will go on sale in the spring of 2011 as a 2012 model for the United States. The current model 650i Convertible starts at $85,550.

The 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe has a twin-turbocharged, all-aluminum, 3.0-liter inline-6 engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe will be available in limited quantities and with a limited range of options at Authorized BMW Centers in Spring, 2011. My guess is that it will cost close to $50,000 as the current model M3 Coupe starts at $58,400. We'll find out January 10th or 11th in Detroit.

The updated 1 Series Coupe and Convertible will go on sale this Spring powered by a 230 horsepower 3.0-liter inline-6 engine that generates 200 lb-ft of torque for the 128i Coupe and Convertible. The 2012 BMW 135i Coupe and Convertible feature BMW’s newest, 3.0-liter inline-6 engine with a single, twin-scroll turbocharger producing 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. The current model 128i sedan starts at $29,450, the 128i Convertible at $34,500, the 135i at $36,350 and 135i Convertible at $40,650.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Toyota Settles With NHTSA For $32.425 Million On Recall Timeliness

Toyota Motor Corporation has reached two settlement agreements with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration related to the timeliness of recalls conducted by the company in 2005 to address potential concerns with steering relay rods and from 2007 to early 2010 to address the potential for pedal entrapment by unsecured, incompatible or improperly installed floor mats. Toyota has agreed to pay $32.425 million as part of these settlements, without admitting to any violation of its obligations under the U.S. Safety Act.

All-new 2011 Chrysler 300 Arrives In First Quarter of 2011

The all-new 2011 Chrysler 300 has an all-new grille featuring the new Chrysler wing badge with added design refinement from its predecessor. Chrysler luxury flagship's windshield has been raked back 3 inches, while rolled-framed doors with thinner pillars improve outward visibility by 15 percent. To take in the sky above, a new dual-pane panoramic sunroof provides Chrysler 300 passengers with twice the outward visibility of a standard sunroof.  The all-new Chrysler 300's interior has substantial upgrades consisting of soft touch materials, premium interior trim, available heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats, and real wood appliques on the instrument panel, doors, center console and steering wheel.

A new instrument cluster features two large gauge faces with sapphire blue illumination and chrome ring accents. Providing a premium and contemporary environment is an all-new sapphire blue LED-illuminated ambient interior lighting. The all-new Chrysler 300 sedans feature the segment's largest standard touchscreen display, a  8.4-inch Uconnect® Touch infotainment center. The 2011 Chrysler 300 arrives in showrooms in the first quarter of 2011.

Again, will a quick glance at the Chrysler 300 force the question, "is that a Bentley?" That was the comment I got a few years when test driving the new 300 at the time when I pulled up to the foyer of the Los Angeles Century Plaza hotel in front of a crowd of doctors attending a medical convention.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2011 North American Car of the Year Awards "Short List"

The General Motors and Nissan each have three models on the "short list" of 14 cars being considered for the 18th annual 2011 North American Car of the Year chosen from the 27 vehicles eligible this year. The list includes two electric vehicles, Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf. There are four European models, four domestic, four from Japan and two are from Korea.

Domestic automakers have won North American Car of the Year nine times. European automakers have won four times, Japanese automakers have won three times. A Korean automaker has won once. Domestic automakers have won North American Truck of the Year 11 times. Japanese automakers have won four times. European automakers have won twice.

2011 North American Car of the Year Short List:
Audi A8, Buick Regal, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Sonata/2.0T/Hybrid, Infiniti M37/56, Jaguar XJ, Kia Optima, Mazda Mazda2, Nissan Juke, Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen Jetta, Volvo S60.

North American Truck of the Year Short List:
Dodge Durango, Ford Edge, Ford Explorer, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai Tucson, Infiniti QX56, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sorento, Kia Sportage, Lincoln MKX, Mercedes-Benz R-Class, Porsche Cayenne, Toyota Sienna, Volkswagen Touareg.

A jury of 49 independent automotive journalists evaluated all the new cars introduced this year and chose three that will compete for the top honor, to be announced at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 10, 2011.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2011 Lexus CT 200h Hybrid Priced At $29,995 For Early March

The all-new 2011 Lexus CT 200h hybrid will be priced at $29,120 plus a delivery, processing and handling fee of $875 for a total of $29,995 when it arrives at dealerships in early March with an overall combined fuel economy at 42 mpg. The CT 200h emits approximately 60 percent fewer smog-forming emissions than the average new car, and has EPA-estimated ratings of 43 mpg city and 40 mpg on the highway utilizing regular 87-octane gasoline. Moreover, the CT 200h can be operated in a switchable EV mode which generates zero emissions.

In addition to the EV and Normal drive modes, the CT 200h offers Sport and Eco modes which can help enhance either performance and dynamic ability or driving efficiency, fuel economy and emissions. EV, Eco and Normal drive modes emphasize ride comfort and smooth acceleration. When Sport mode is selected, instrument panel lighting changes from blue to red and the hybrid power indicator is replaced with a tachometer.

Standard features on the CT 200h include SmartAccess with push-button Start/Stop and touch sensors on exterior front-door handles; leather steering wheel; a six-speaker, audio system with a CD player, and Bluetooth® for phone and music streaming capabilities; integrated satellite radio receiver (includes complimentary 90-day trial subscription); USB/iPod® connectivity; 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels; and dual zone automatic climate control.  The CT 200h also incorporates a standard eight-airbag Supplemental Restraint System.

The optional sixth-generation navigation system features a backup camera and Lexus' exclusive Remote Touch controller with user-adjustable haptic feedback.  The controller, similar to a computer mouse, eliminates the need for touch screen controls, allowing the pop-up navigation system screen to be mounted further up the center stack and away from the driver.  This helps the driver benefit with a clear, high-resolution screen, improved site lines and reduced eye movement.     

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November 2010 U.S. Auto Sales Show Big Gains over 2009

The increased sales seem to be coming at the expense of Toyota with sales up just 6 tenths of a percent for 11 months of 2010.

General Motors' four brands reported 168,704 total sales in November, a 20.8 percent increase from the prior year. Year-to-date GM's four brands have sold 1,978,995 vehicles, up 22 percent.

Ford, Lincoln and Mercury November sales totaled 147,338, up 24 percent versus year ago. Ford’s year-to-date sales total 1.74 million, up 21 percent over 2009.

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. including Lexus and Scion reported November sales of 129,317 units, on a raw volume basis, that's a drop of 3.2 percent compared to the same period last year. Year-to-date Toyota has sold 1,586,107 vehicles, up 6 tenths of a percent over 2009.

American Honda posted November sales of 89,617 vehicles, an increase of 16.1 percent based on the daily selling rate. American Honda year-to-date sales reached 1,100,864, an increase of 5.9 percent versus last year based on the daily selling rate. 
Chrysler Group LLC reported U.S. sales of 74,152, a 17 percent increase compared with sales in November 2009. Year-to-date Chrysler has sold 984,509 vehicles, also a 17 percent gain.

Nissan North America reported November U.S. sales of 71,366, an increase of 26.8 percent. For all of 2010, NNA sales are 814,840, up 17 percent.

Hyundai Motor America announced an all-time record for November sales of 40,723 units, up 45 percent versus 2009. For the year-to-date, Hyundai has already established a new annual sales record with total volume of 493,426, up 23 percent versus the same 11 month period in 2009.

Volkswagen of America reported that November 2010 sales of 20,189 was a 24.2 percent increase over prior year sales and year-to-date sales are 232,963, a 20.7 percent rise over 2009. Audi surpassed the prior November record set in 2006 selling 9,365 vehicles last month, a 37.5 percent increase over November 2009. Year-to-date Audi new sales are 91,083, up 23.6 percent versus 2009 through November. 

Kia Motors America announced record November sales of 26,601 vehicles, a 48.2 percent increase over the same period last year and with one month remaining in 2010, KMA's sales of 325,824 are up 16.8 percent over 2009 and already exceeding its previous full-year sales record set in 2007.

The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported November sales of 22,883 vehicles, an increase of 27.1 percent from the 18,002 vehicles sold in November 2009. Year-to-date, the BMW Group has sold 238,157 vehicles, up 9.3 percent from 2009.

Subaru of America, Inc. continues its record-breaking run with the best November in the company's history with sales of 20,792, a 22 percent increase on November 2009. Subaru's year-to-date sales are 237,126, up 23 percent over 2009 through November and already 10% ahead of the 2009 full year with December sales still to come.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported its highest November sales volume since 2007 with sales of 19,037, an increase of 13.3 percent for the month. On a year-to-date basis, sales increased 19.4 percent to 203,468.

Mazda North American Operations reported sales of 15,304 vehicles in November 2010, an increase of 7.4 percent over the same month last year.  Year-to-date sales through November 2010 stand at 208,087, and are outpacing last year's sales at this time by 9.8 percent.

Mitsubishi Motors sold 4,306 vehicle in November, a 47 percent gain over 2009 and year-to-date is at 50,809, up 2 percent versus 11 months of 2009.

Jaguar Land Rover has sold 4,039, a 22 percent rise while year-to-date sales stand at 40,329, up 21 percent over last year.

American Suzuki sales jumped to 2,332, a 51 percent increase, bringing year-to-date sales to 21,347, a 42 slide from this time in 2009.

This blog will be updated as manufacturers report.  

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