Monday, September 26, 2011

2012 Kia Rio 5-door Starts At $14,350 This Fall

The all-new and completely redesigned 2012 Kia Rio 5-door subcompact hatchback starts with an MSRP of $13,600 (plus $750 destination and handling fee) and the Rio 5-door A/T starts at $14,700 – both lower than the previous generation.  The top-of-the-line, SX trim starts under $18,000. The Rio comes equipped with a 138 horsepower 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine with the option of either a six-speed manual transmission (LX only) or efficient six-speed automatic with a fuel economy rating of 30 mpg city/40 mpg highway.

The 2012 Rio also comes better equipped than the previous generation, offering standard air conditioning, electric power steering, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB and auxiliary ports, SiriusXM™ satellite radio with three months complimentary service, and standard safety features including Electronic Stability Control, a four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System, Hill-start Assist Control and Vehicle Stability Management. The SX offers 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamp and tail light accents, a sport-tuned suspension with larger front brakes, projection headlamps, twin chrome exhaust tips, fog lamps, as well as standard UVO powered by Microsoft® voice-activated infotainment system (expected to be available this fall) with a 4.3-inch color touch screen and rear camera display. At the beginning of 2012, the all-new Rio will offer ISG technology which helps to improve fuel economy by turning the engine off when the vehicle is not in motion, such as at a stop light or in traffic, and automatically restarting when the driver releases the brake pedal.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Land Rover DC100 Concepts Shown At Frankfurt Auto Show

Land Rover unveiled two new concepts for the Land Rover Defender, the DC100 and DC100 Sport, which are on the same shared 100-inch wheelbase and intended for production in 2015. Features include a Terrain-i scanning device to warn of obstacles when off-road, Wade Aid sonar technology to assess water depth and Land Rover Terrain Response System, which automatically optimizes the car for any environment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Toyota's Chief Quality Officer Steve St. Angelo Looks To A Bright Future

Toyota's Chief Quality Officer Steve St. Angelo discusses how the company culture has changed since the mainstream media's assault on the unintended acceleration issue which resulted in millions of recalls and eventual vindication of fault by the Department of Transportation.

Steve St. Angelo
Steve St. Angelo gave a speech to a group of more than a hundred journalists in Los Angeles that started with the breaking news that all of Toyota’s U.S. plants were back operating at full speed as of yesterday following the disruptions caused by the Japanese earthquake back in March. He said, “the parts problems are behind us”. St. Angelo delivered some stories about his background like how he was almost cast in the ‘70’s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, to his first day working for Toyota in 2005. 

He touched on the “bright future” ahead for the industry and listed the same positive factors that Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. President & COO Jim Lentz did to the same group in January: the U.S. population will grow faster that elsewhere, the age of vehicles on the road is at a high as are used car prices, there’s credit availability, the Fed will keep interest rates low and all manufacturers are offering new cars with more technology and safety features that will drive people into the dealer showrooms. St. Angelo threw green into his presentation discussing how much money the manufacturing plants were saving on energy due to conservation measures such as reducing light bulbs.

He said Toyota will be adding 240 U.S. jobs at its engine plant in Alabama that will add 4 cylinder engines to its 6 and 8 cylinder engine assembly and 2,000 people will be hired at the new Mississippi plant when it opens this Fall to produce the Corolla. St. Angelo said the auto industry employees 8 million workers in the U.S. and will add 88,000 this year and next.

St. Angelo went over new safety features such as a rear window curtain airbag, whiplash-lessening seat belts, blind spot monitors and an eye monitoring feature to make sure the driver is focused on the road. Also a steering wheel that monitors the driver's vital signs, presumably like a treadmill at a fitness center.

It was good to hear that production has returned to 100% following the March 11, 2011, earthquake in Japan and that there's a bright future for the industry but I was really wanting to Steve discuss how the sticky-pedal-stacked-floor-mat and unintended acceleration issues that forced a millions of recalls and billions of dollars/yen to be spent changed his life and Toyota's culture on quality. Maybe it was wiser to leave all that in the past rather re-live that overblown media nightmare.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jaguar C-X16 Concept Revealed Ahead Of Frankfurt Show

The Jaguar C-X16 concept, a compact, rear-wheel drive, two-seater, powered by a supercharged 376 horsepower 3.0-litre V6 engine with 0-62 mph acceleration in 4.4 seconds, 50-75 mph acceleration in 2.1 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph. The C-X16 has a Formula 1-inspired hybrid boost system with a steering-wheel mounted button for on-demand acceleration. Integrated into the eight-speed transmission is a motor generator which draws power from a 1.6kWh battery pack mounted behind the seats for ideal 50:50 weight distribution. Charged through a brake energy regeneration system, the batteries allow the motor to provide an additional 95 PS (70 kW) and173 lb ft (235 Nm). In terms of overall length, the C-X16 is the smallest Jaguar created since the 1954 XK120. The Jaguar C-X16 concept makes its world debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show next week.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bob Lutz Is Back At General Motors

Bob Lutz                 Richard Saxton

General Motors is retaining its 79 year old former Vice Chairman Bob Lutz to provide counsel to the senior leadership team of the company. Lutz will be available to executives on a part-time consultancy basis effective immediately. He brings a wealth of experience built over the course of more than 40 years in the industry, including two stints at GM. He has also been a senior executive at Ford, Chrysler, BMW and was CEO of Exide Batteries. Lutz has been providing advice to GM executives informally since retiring from the company in 2010. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Audi A2 Electric Concept To Debut in Frankfurt Next Week

The Audi A2 concept with an electric-only powertrain will debut at the 64th International Motor Show in Frankfurt next week. The Audi A2 concept, with room for four people, is just 12.47 feet long, 5.54 feet wide and 4.89 feet high.  A package of LEDs and microreflectors generate a high-resolution and non-glaring high-beam headlight.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August 2011 Auto Sales - Good For Most , Down For Japanese

General Motors reported total sales of 218,479 vehicles in August, an 18 percent increase compared with August 2010. Year-to-date, GM has sold 1,695,027 vehicles, up 17 percent from 2010.

Ford Motor Company’s August sales totaled 175,220, up 11 percent versus a year ago – driven by 16 percent higher Ford brand sales and 25 percent higher sales for Lincoln. Year-to-date, Ford has sold 1,428,799 vehicles, up 11.8 pecent over 2010.

Chrysler Group reported U.S. sales of 130,119, a 31 percent increase compared with sales in August 2010 making it the best August sales since 2007. Year-to-date Chrysler sales are 882,077, a 22 percent increase over 2010.

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. reported August sales of 129,483, down 12.7 percent from the year-ago month. Year-to-date, Toyota's U.S. sales are 1,073,073, an 8.3 percent drop from 2010.
Nissan North America reported August U.S. sales of 91,541, an increase of 19.2 percent.  Nissan Division sales increased 22.4 percent for the month with 82,517 units. Sales of Infiniti vehicles decreased 4.3 percent from the prior year, to 9,024 units. Year-to-date sales are 681,115, a gain of 13.6 percent over last year.

American Honda Motor posted August sales of 82,321 vehicles, a decrease of 27.2 percent, based on the daily selling rate. American Honda year-to-date sales reached 770,265, down 6 percent versus last year. Although production limitations caused by the March 11 earthquake in Japan continue to improve, reduced vehicle supplies adversely affected August sales results.

Hyundai Motor America announced sales of 58,505 vehicles in August, a 9 percent total sales increase compared with the same period a year ago. Year to date, Hyundai sales are 440,863, up 21 percent versus 2010 in total.

Kia Motors America announced best-ever August sales of 41,188, a 26.9 percent increase over the same period last year and the company's 12th straight monthly sales record. Year-to-date, Kia sales of 331,796, is a 39.4 percent increase over 2010.

Volkswagen of America reported 25,232 units sold in August 2011, a 10.4 percent increase over prior year sales. Year-to-date sales are up 20.7 percent. Separately, Audi of America reported record August U.S. sales of 10,201 vehicles, topping the previous record of 9,182 vehicles sold in August 2010. Audi sales in the U.S. year to date grew 15 percent to 75,256.

The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported August sales of 23,924 vehicles, a decrease of 0.2 percent from the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, BMW Group sales are up 14.6 percent to 193,565 in the first eight months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.

Mazda North American Operations reported August sales of 22,632 vehicles, up 14.7 percent versus August of 2010. Year-to-date sales are up 6.1 percent versus last year with 165,794 vehicles sold.

Subaru of America announced August 2011 sales of 20,837, a 6.3 percent drop and year-to-date sales of 172,182, a 1.4 gain over 2010.    

Mercedes-Benz USA reported August sales of 20,728 vehicles, a 5.4 perceny improvement over August 2010 and the company's highest August volume since 2007.  On a year-to-date basis, the 159,814 vehicles sold represent a 10.5 percent increase over the same period last year.  

American Suzuki Motor Corporation sold 2,409 vehicles in August, a 32 percent jump vs. last year and year-to-date sales 18,258, a gain of 19 percent.

Jaguar Land Rover North America reported August 2011 sales of 3,617, down 9 percent from a year ago. Land Rover sales for the month were 2,807, up 10 percent from August 2010 and Jaguar sales for the month were 810, down 43 percent due to model year changeover. For the full year 2011, Jaguar Land Rover North America is up 9 percent with 31,114 sold.

Porsche Cars North America announced August 2011 sales of 2,184 vehicles, an increase of 7 percent compared to the same period last year. To date in 2011, Porsche sales are 20,494, a 30.4 percent increase year-to-date.