Sunday, December 30, 2012

Peter Schreyer Becomes President of Kia Motors

Kia's design chief Peter Schreyer, 59, was appointed as President to oversee Hyundai and Kia's design centers in order to streamline its resources and create synergy between the two brands.thus, becoming the first non-Korean to hold that title in Kia's history.

Schreyer joined Kia in 2006 from the Volkswagen Group to lead Kia's design transformation and will keep that role of Chief Design Officer in addition to being one of three Kia presidents. Schreyer, originally from Bavaria, is based in Frankfurt, Germany, married with two children. He studied at the Royal College of Art in Germany before becoming part of the Volkswagen Group's design team and contributing to the distinct appearance of several VW and Audi models including the Passat and the Audi TT.

Hear my interview with Peter Schreyer at a design panel event in June 2012 where he discusses design and Kia's highly-recognizable "tiger nose".

Schreyer was named Automobile Magazine's 2012 Man of the Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Diesel Math With the VW Jetta

Diesel price in green
Clean diesel systems offer fuel efficiency - 30 percent better than gas - and environmental friendliness - up to 25 percent less CO2 emissions with no loss of power or performance vs. gas. When it comes to cost - the diesel vehicle and fuel - are more expensive. Diesel engines are said to be very dependable, require less maintenance and have a lower depreciation rate after 100,000 miles of use than gasoline engines and hybrid vehicles. According to there are now no federal tax credits for owning a diesel engine vehicle.

The Volkswagen Jetta with the 140 horsepower 2.0 liter TDI diesel engine starts at $22,990 MSRP, 13.2% more than the 170 horsepower 2.5 liter gas engine Jetta SE with the convenience package which starts at $20,310. The diesel engine gets 43 miles per gallon, 27.3% better highway mileage and 30.4% better city mileage than the gas engine. Take this recent fuel price sign in California where the unleaded cash price is $3.49 per gallon and the cash diesel price is $3.97 per gallon. Diesel costs 13.75% more than gasoline.

Let's assume you drive 12,000 miles per year, half the time in the city and half on the highway. With the Jetta TDI diesel at 36mpg you will use 333 gallons, so at $3.97 per gallon will spend $1,322. With the gas Jetta at 28mpg you will use 429 gallons, so at $3.49 per gallon your annual fuel cost is $1,497. The diesel saves just $175 per year. The diesel vehicle costs $2,680 more so it would take 15.3 years for diesel to pay off despite diesel being 28.6% more fuel efficient. Also, it's a little more difficult finding service stations that sell diesel fuel.

In Europe, governments subsidize diesel through lower taxes to make the pump price cheaper than gas in most countries which helps explain why more than half the cars sold in Europe are diesel. In the U.S., consumer diesel vehicle sales are fewer than hybrids at about a 3 percent market share with Volkswagen offering the most choices at affordable prices. Conclusion is that there's no major advantage in owning a diesel sedan in the U.S. with the current diesel vehicle and fuel price differences and lack of government incentives.

Now if you're comparing a large SUV, like the Audi Q7, the TDI gets a combined city/highway of 22 mpg while the gas engine is at 18 mpg. At 12,000 miles per year, you're saving about $300 per year on fuel cost with the diesel but you're paying $5,200 more for the TDI vehicle, so it takes more than 17 years to breakeven. If you're mainly a highway driver then the Q7 TDI's 28 mpg highway is 6 mpg more than the Q7 gas at 22 mpg but still only saves you $312 per year in fuel cost. (Using the premium unleaded gas cost for the gas version). In any case, with the pricing, you need to own the vehicle nearly 20 years to make it pay off. I invite your comments and discussion.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Acura NSX Hybrid All-Wheel Drive Concept
Thank you for your support! Wishing you a happy, healthy, warm and relaxing holiday season!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2013 IIHS Top Safety Picks

 The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is awarding the new Top Safety Pick+ accolade to 13 cars. All earn good or acceptable ratings in the new IIHS small overlap test as well as top marks in other IIHS evaluations.

Courtesy of:

"Of the 29 models evaluated so far in our small overlap frontal crash test, these 13 cars offer the highest level of all-around crash protection," says Adrian Lund, IIHS president. "We're pleased to recognize them with our new Top Safety Pick+ award for 2013."

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in a moderate overlap frontal crash, small overlap frontal crash, side impact and rollover, plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts. Top Safety Pick+ winners must earn good ratings for occupant protection in at least 4 of 5 evaluations, with no less than acceptable in the fifth test.

For 2013, 117 additional vehicles earn Top Safety Pick. To qualify for Top Safety Pick vehicles must have good ratings for occupant protection in the moderate overlap frontal test, side impact, rollover and rear tests, regardless of their small overlap rating.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2013 North American Car and Truck of The Year Finalists

Finalists for the 2013 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year have been narrowed down to three in each category with the winners to be announced in Detroit on January 14th. Last year the Hyundai Elantra and Range Rover Evoque were chosen.

North American Car of the Year finalists:
Cadillac ATS (winner of the Motor Press Guild Car of the Year)
Ford Fusion (2013 Green Car of the Year & KBB Best Redesigned)
Honda Accord

North American Truck/Utility of the Year finalists:
Ford C-Max
Mazda CX-5 
Ram 1500 (2013 Motor Trend Truck of the Year)

Let's look at other recent significant award winners and finalists for some insight while realizing that each publication has it's own criteria for making their choices:

This year's Motor Trend Awards:
2013 Motor Trend SUV of the Year: Mercedes-Benz GL
2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year: Tesla Model S
2013 Truck of the Year: Ram 1500

Kelley Blue Book's Best Redesigned Vehicle: 2013 Ford Fusion
Automobile Magazine: 2013 Automobile of the Year: Tesla Model S

Autoweek: Best of the Best: Porsche Boxster S and Mercedes-Benz GL
2013 Best of the Best/Car finalists included: Cadillac ATS, Dodge Dart, Porsche 911, Porsche Boxster S and Subaru BRZ.
2013 Best of the Best/Truck finalists included: Acura RDX, Ford Escape, Infiniti JX35, Mazda CX-5 and Mercedes-Benz GL.

Green Car Journal's 2013 Green Car of the Year®: 2013 Ford Fusion
Finalists included the 2013 Dodge Dart Aero, Ford C-MAX, Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV and the Toyota Prius c.

The 16th Annual Strategic Vision Total Value Awards may surprise you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

LA Auto Show Video: Jeff Conrad On 2014 Acura RLX

The all-new 2014 Acura RLX sedan, powered by an all-new 310-horsepower 3.5-liter direct-injected SOHC i-VTEC® SOHC 24-Valve i-VTEC® V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management, has a lightweight body structure and the first-ever application of Acura Precision All-Wheel Steer™ which is an independent and continuous control of the left and right rear-wheel steering angles for handling agility and high- and low-speed maneuverability. The next-generation AcuraLink® cloud-based connected car system also makes its debut on the new RLX. 

The 2014 Acura RLX is slated to go on-sale at U.S. Acura dealers nationwide in the spring of 2013 and will be available in five grades – the well-equipped RLX, the RLX with Navigation, the feature-packed RLX with Technology package, the RLX with Krell Audio package, and the top-of-the-line RLX with Advance package. Pricing details will be announced closer to launch. A version of RLX featuring Acura's new Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive® (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD®) technology, producing 370 horsepower with expected fuel economy ratings of 30 city/30 highway/30 combined, will debut later in 2013.

Jeff Conrad, VP of Acura Sales at American Honda shares his enthusiasm for Acura's new flagship luxury sedan.

LA Auto Show Video: Jim O'Sullivan On The All-New 2014 Mazda6

Mazda's SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine has arrived for the all-new 2014 Mazda6 and both made their North American debuts at the LA Auto Show a few weeks ago. The Mazda6 made its global debut in late August in Moscow. The Mazda6 arrives next month followed by the diesel version during the second half of the year. Mazda6 has two engine choices: the 184 horsepower SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine or the new SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine with a choice of SKYACTIV transmissions in either the SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic or SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual. Final specifications and pricing for all 2014 Mazda6 models will be available closer to the on-sale date.

The racing version of the 2014 Mazda6, powered by a Mazda SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel engine, will make its motorsports debut at the Rolex 24 endurance race on January 26-27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  This will be the first time a diesel-powered vehicle of any type has ever raced at the Rolex 24 and Mazda is after their 24th class win in the American endurance classic, having most recently won in 2008 and 2010.

Also announced at the LA Show was an updated CX-9 and the more powerful 2.5 liter engine choice for the CX-5. The CX-7 is no longer in the Mazda lineup.

Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations discusses the new Mazda6 and more.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

LA Auto Show Video: Tim Philippo On Jaguar F-Type

The all-new Jaguar F-TYPE two-seater lightweight aluminum architecture sports car is a front-engine, rear-wheel drive convertible coming next summer in three models: the F-TYPE with a 340 horsepower supercharged 3.0 liter V6, F-TYPE S with a 380 horsepower version of the 3.0 liter V6 and the F-TYPE V8 S with a 495 horsepower 5.0 liter V8 engine. All engines are mated to an eight-speed 'Quickshift' transmission with a centrally mounted SportShift selector offering full manual sequential control and steering wheel-mounted paddles. Jaguar Sports Cars Product Manager Tim Philippo discusses the new F-TYPE and the XFR-S shown at the LA Auto Show.

LA Auto Show Video: John Mendel On 2013 Honda Civic

The 2013 Honda Civic Sedan, the best-selling compact car in the U.S., receives all-new front and rear exterior styling, extensive interior upgrades and a host of new standard equipment just 18 months after a total redesign. Retuned steering and suspension, extensive chassis upgrades including Honda's ACE™ II body structure along with standard features including Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®, rearview camera, Pandora® Interface, SMS text message feature, and steering wheel audio controls. The 2013 Civic has an MSRP increase of only $160 across the lineup. Pricing for the 2013 Civic LX Sedan starts at at $18,165. John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president of Sales discusses the early major upgrades to the Civic.

At the LA Auto Show Honda also announced that the 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid earned an EPA-certified 115 MPGe rating and will go on sale in New York and California on January 15 with an MSRP of $39,7801. Separately, the Accord Hybrid, featuring Honda's new two-motor hybrid system, will launch nationwide next summer with anticipated fuel economy of 49/45/47 city/hwy/combined. The revised 2013 Honda Crosstour and 2013 Honda CR-Z also made their auto-show debuts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

LA Auto Show Video: Megan Gillam On Lincoln MKZ

Lincoln, Ford's luxury brand, has a new advertising campaign that launched on December 3rd: “Introducing the Lincoln Motor Company.” Lincoln was originally called the Lincoln Motor Company in 1922, when Edsel Ford signed the agreement purchasing the company from its founder Henry Leland. The first campaign begins with “Does the World Need Another Luxury Car?”, followed by “Hello. Again” that just debuted on Dec. 10. The all-new entry level Lincoln MKZ will be featured heavily. Megan Gillam, the market manager for the MKZ discusses the new vehicle at a special event at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Certainly good timing with the name Lincoln being so widely talked about with all the praise around the feature film on President Lincoln. And if you have a penny in your pocket...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

LA Auto Show Video: Al Castignetti On Nissan's 2013 Line-up

Nissan showed off its new line-up at the Los Angeles Auto Show, including the new 2013 Sentra, 2013 Altima and 2013 Pathfinder and the Nissan Hi-Cross Concept, which provides design cues for a future Nissan SUV according to Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America. The Hi-Cross Concept couples an electric motor powered by a Nissan-developed compact lithium-ion battery similar to that utilized in the Nissan LEAF electric vehicle with a 2.0-liter direct injection gasoline engine. The hybrid system is linked to Nissan's next-generation Xtronic CVT® (Continuously Variable Transmission) used on the recently introduced 2013 Nissan Pathfinder and has smaller shaft-diameter pulleys to provide the widest possible ratio coverage for enhanced efficiency.

Castignetti responds to Nissan President & CEO Carlos Ghosn's call for increased sales by boasting about Nissan's "Five All-new Models in 15 Months" product revolution representing a high percentage of Nissan's volume and discusses Leaf lovers.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

LA Auto Show Video: Steve Hirashiki On 2014 Kia Sorento

Just three years into its product lifecycle, Kia brings the new 2014 Sorento to market on an all-new chassis that increases torsional rigidity by 18-percent. Over 80-percent of the parts in the 2014 Sorento are either all-new or significantly redesigned, including a new 290 horsepower 3.3-liter GDI V6 engine and a substantially redesigned interior and a next-generation infotainment system with Kia’s next-generation UVO eServices voice-activated telematics system. There are now four trim levels: LX V6, EX V6, SX and SX Limited. The SX Limited is new and will arrive within the second quarter of 2013, shortly after the arrival of the other new 2014 Sorento models. Steve Hirashiki, Senior Product Strategy Manager at Kia Motors America describes the new 2014 Sorento.

Friday, December 7, 2012

LA Auto Show Video: Jacob Harb On BMW i3 Concept Coupe

Jacob Harb, BMW's North American Manager of Electric Vehicle Sales and Strategy, says the i3 Concept is closer to reality though the actual model, expected in about a year, will be a 4-door version of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe shown at the LA Auto Show in the world premiere.

LA Auto Show Video: Andres Valbuena On VW Beetle Convertible

Andres Valbuena, Product Manager at Volkswagen of America, discusses new Beetle Convertible offerings at the LA Auto Show. The New Beetle Convertible is the third-generation Beetle Convertible with three special editions from the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1970s. The ‘50s Edition Beetle Convertible is black with a tan interior, the ‘60s Edition has two-tone seats and Denim Blue paint and the ‘70s Edition Convertible has a Toffee Brown exterior and chrome-look disc wheels. Compared with the 2006 version of the older car, the latest Beetle Convertible is 3.3 inches wider at 71.2 inches; 1.1 inches lower at 58.0 inches tall; and 6.0 inches longer at 168.4 inches overall. The 2013 Beetle Convertible offers a 170 horsepower 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. There's also a 200 horsepower dual-overhead-cam, 16-valve 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine with six-speed manual or six-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmissions getting an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The third choice is a 140 horsepower 2.0-liter TDI turbocharged Clean Diesel with the same manual or DSG options which gets an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 28 mpg city and 41 mpg highway with the manual transmission.

The Beetle Convertible has a starting MSRP of $24,995. The ‘50s Edition costs $26,095. The Beetle Convertible with Technology starts at $26,695. The Beetle Convertible with Sound and Navigation starts at $28,495. The ‘70s Edition has an MSRP of $28,595. Beetle TDI Convertible starts at $27,895. The Beetle TDI Convertible with Sound and Navigation has a base price of $29,195. The Beetle Turbo Convertible starts at $27,795. The Beetle Turbo Convertible with Sound is $29,195. The Beetle Turbo Convertible with Sound and Navigation starts at $31,195 and the ‘60s Edition is priced at $32,395. The are on sale this month.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

LA Auto Show Video: Simon Turner On All-New Range Rover

The all-new Land Rover flagship fourth generation Range Rover is on display at the LA Auto Show following its UK introduction in early September. The Range Rover keeps much of the original design from over 40 years ago with a very similar footprint to the outgoing model but now has a lightweight all-aluminium body and a rear compartment that offers more space. Simon Turner, Manager Service Engineering Support and Tech Center at Jaguar & Land Rover was on hand in L.A. to discuss the new vehicle.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

LA Auto Show Video: Toyota's Bill Fay On All-New Rav4

Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota division at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. discusses the all-new Rav4 at the LA Auto Show. So far this year 157,526 Rav4s have been sold in the U.S., a 33.3 percent increase over last year.

The all-new 2013 RAV4, the fourth-generation Rav4, made its world debut at the 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show and arrives early next year. RAV4 will be available in LE, XLE and Limited  with a 176 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a new six-speed transmission. RAV4 front-wheel-drive models have received EPA- estimated fuel efficiency ratings of 24 mpg city/31 highway, while all-wheel-drive models are EPA-estimated at 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway.  All 2013 RAV4s will have eight standard airbags and feature the Star Safety System, which includes Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Brake Assist, an Anti-lock Braking System and Smart Stop Technology.  Standard on all RAV4 models is a Display Audio with a 6.1-inch LCD touchscreen and includes a standard backup camera and Bluetooth connectivity.  When shifted into reverse, the audio display will show the image of what the backup camera captures. 

LA Auto Show Video: Phil Jansen On Fiat 500L

Philip Jansen, the Chrysler Vehicle Line Executive for the this segment size discusses the new Fiat shown at the LA Auto Show. The all-new 2014 Fiat 500L offers more than 42 percent more interior space than the two-door with seating for five, powered by a 160 horsepower 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine with two six-speed transmission offerings. The all-new 2014 Fiat 500L and all-new Fiat 500L Trekking models are produced at FIAT Automobiles’ manufacturing plant in Kragujevac, Serbia and will arrive to FIAT Studios in North America in mid-2013.

Monday, December 3, 2012

November 2012 U.S. Auto Sales

General Motors reported its highest November sales in the United States since 2007, with sales of 186,505, a 3 percent rise over last year. Year-over-year sales are 2,349,984, a 3.3 percent increase over 2011.

Ford's total November sales of 177,673 was a 6 percent increase versus last year, with retail sales up 12 percent. Year-to-date Ford sales are 2,035,943, a 5 percent gain over 2011.

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. reported November 2012 sales results of 161,695, an increase of 17.2 percent compared to the same period last year. The Toyota Division posted November total sales of 138,976, an increase of 17.3 percent from November 2011. Year-to-date sales are 1,888,361, a 28.8 percent increase.

Chrysler reported U.S. sales of 122,565, a 14 percent increase compared with sales in November 2011 (107,172 units), and the group's best November sales since 2007. Year-to-date sales are 1,499,420, 22 percent higher than 2011.

American Honda reported an all-time record for the month of November, with sales of 116,580, an increase of 38.9 percent compared with November 2011. The Honda Division posted November 2012 sales of 104,334, an increase of 41 percent compared with November 2011. Acura U.S. November sales of 12,246, an increase of 23.6 percent over November 2011. Year-to-date American Honda sales are 1,290,011, a 23.8 percent increase.

Nissan North America reported record November U.S. sales of 96,197, up 12.9 percent. Nissan Division set a new November record, with sales up 9.8 percent for the month over the prior year at 84,300 units. Sales of Infiniti vehicles were 11,897, up 41.2 percent over the prior year, also a November record. Year-to-date sales are 1,042,366, a 10.7 percent rise over last year.

Hyundai Motor America announced record sales of 53,487 vehicles in November, an eight percent total sales increase compared with the same record-setting period a year ago. Sales are 643,572, also up eight percent for the first eleven months of the year.

Kia Motors America November sales was its 27th straight month of record sales with 41,055 sold, a 10.9-percent increase over the same period in 2011. Year-to-date sales are 518,421, up 17.3 percent over 2011, and Kia sold its 500,000th vehicle in 2012, for the first time ever in a single year in the U.S.

Volkswagen of America reported sales of 36,728 in November, a 29.3 percent increase over prior year sales, and year-to-date sales of 291,900, a 35 percent increase and the best November since 1973. Separately, Audi reported November sales of 12,067, a 24.4 percent increase over the same month a year ago with year-to-date sales of 124,469 vehicles, up 18.6 percent, eclipsing the annual sales record set last year.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported an all-time sales record with November sales of 32,649 for combined sales of Mercedes-Benz, smart and Sprinter models, up 15.6 percent and delivering a record year-to-date total of 273,622 up 14.5 percent. The Mercedes-Benz model line alone recorded its highest November on record with sales of 30,315 for the month, up 13.1 percent, and 245,910 for the year up 12.0 percent.

Subaru of America reported 28,206 sales for the month of November, a 60 percent increase over November 2011. The company also announced record-breaking annual sales of 299,788 vehicles which represent a 28 percent increase over 2011 and just 222 vehicles short of achieving 300,000 sales for the first time in company history.  Following the November close, on Dec. 1, 2012, Subaru achieved the 300,000th sales milestone for the first time in company history.

The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported November sales of 36,461 vehicles, an increase of 38.8 percent from the 26,271 vehicles sold in the same month a year ago.  Year-to-date, BMW Group is up 11.3 percent on sales of 303,728 in the first eleven months of 2012 compared to 272,873 in the same period in 2011.

North American Operations reported November U.S. sales of 21,691, an increase of 17.7 percent versus last year. Year-to-date sales are 249,795 through November, up 9.1 percent versus last year.

Cars North America announced a record November 2012 sales of 3,865 vehicles, an increase of 71 percent. November 2012 was the best sales month ever for Porsche in the United States. For the year, Porsche has sold 32,091 cars in the U.S., an 18 percent increase over the same period last year.

Mitsubishi Motors North America reported November sales of the Outlander Sport were 1,520, up 34.2 percent compared to November 2011.

American Suzuki Motor Corporation reported November 2012 sales of 2,224 units, a 22 percent increase compared to the same period last year. 

Sales with be updated as manufacturers report.

Friday, November 30, 2012

LA Auto Show Day 2 Highlights

Honda Civic - refreshed, updated & more!
All-new Mazda6 - coming soon with a diesel engine
All-new Mazda CX-9
Mitsubishi Outlander GT

These are the photo highlights from new introductions at the LA Auto Show. Lots more to come - interviews, videos and details - come back and visit to the updates.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

LA Auto Show Day 1 Highlights

Toyota Rav4

Hyundai Santa Fe

Acura RLX

Jaguar F-type

Nissan Sentra

Subaru Forester

MINI Paceman

Porsche Cayman

BMW i3 Concept
Fiat 500L
Kia Sorento
There were 17 media conferences to debut all-new, refreshed or concept vehicles during the first day of the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. We'll have the details and video interviews about these vehicles in the days ahead. Stay tuned for Day 2 unveilings.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Los Angeles Auto Show With Nearly 50 Debuts Next Week

The Los Angeles Auto Show confirmed that nearly 50 vehicles will debut at the show when it opens for the public on Nov. 30th. Debuts include world- firsts from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as European automakers such as BMW, Fiat, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen. Overall, there will be two dozen all-electric or plug-in electric models at the show, at least a dozen clean-diesel vehicles and nearly 20 vehicles achieving 40-plus mpg with highly advanced four-cylinder gasoline engines. Listed below are a few that have been disclosed.
Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force Concept Vehicle
Fiat 500L North American 5-passenger version
Chevrolet Spark EV
2013 Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid
Fusion Energi plug-in
Focus Electric
Honda Accord plug-in hybrid
2013 Acura RLX luxury sedan
2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series
new BMW i Concept vehicle
BMW Concept K2 Powder Ride
Kia Forte sedan
Jaguar XFR-S

Audi TDI Clean Diesel Line Up
All-new 2013 RAV4 crossover SUV
BMW i8 Spyder hybrid roadster concept
Jaguar F-TYPE convertible sportscar
Porsche 911 Carrera 4
Mazda6 mid-sized sports sedan
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander
Audi A8 TDI clean diesel
Audi A8, A7, A6, Q5, updated Q7 TDI with a new 3.0 liter V6 TDI clean diesel
Hyundai Santa Fe crossover seven passenger version
2013 Land Rover Range Rover

2013 Cadillac ATS Voted Motor Press Guild Car Of The Year

The all-new 2013 Cadillac ATS is the winner of the second-ever Motor Press Guild Vehicle of the Year (VOTY) Award. The 2013 Cadillac ATS was one of six finalists chosen by a select panel of MPG journalist members who test and review cars on a regular basis. The final vehicles were evaluated and ranked by all voting journalist and analyst members. Vehicles were rated in the categories of safety, quality, value, performance/handling, design/style, environmental/green impact and technology/innovation. In addition, journalists were encouraged to consider models that reflect the unique style of Southern California.

"In many ways, the ATS is a breakthrough vehicle for Cadillac," said Laura Burstein, President, Motor Press Guild. "Not only is it smaller and leaner than other Cadillacs on the market, it's the first American luxury car that truly goes head-to-head with compact luxury sport sedans from well-known European and Asian brands. Our members remarked that the ATS is capable on both the street and the track, offers a well-made and attractive interior, is replete with the latest technology and – perhaps most importantly – is fun to drive."

"The ATS is the result of an extensive, all new, ground-up mission to deliver a segment-winning vehicle," says Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac Marketing. "That makes it especially rewarding when our efforts are recognized and awarded by a large and influential panel of automotive experts."

To be eligible for the Motor Press Guild Vehicle of the Year award, models must be all-new or substantially changed from the previous year and available at dealerships on or before Jan. 1, 2013. Other 2012 VOTY finalists (in alphabetical order) are the 2013 Ford Fusion, 2013 Honda Accord, 2013 Nissan Altima, 2013 Scion FR-S and 2013 Subaru BRZ.

I will admit the Cadillac ATS was not my top choice because I factor in price as part of the value equation and try to select a vehicle that provides the most for the money.

Friday, November 16, 2012

2012 SEMA: Trucks

Toyota Sequoia = DragQuoia

2012 SEMA: Exterior

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

American Suzuki Files Chapter 11 To Exit U.S. Car Business

American Suzuki filed for bankruptcy yesterday to reorganize and get out of U.S. car business:

"We greatly value our Suzuki automobile owners and we want you to hear directly from us about important developments at American Suzuki Motor Corporation (“ASMC”). Today we announced that, following a thorough review of our current position and future opportunities in the U.S. automotive market, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to wind down and discontinue new automobile sales in the continental U.S. Consistent with our long history of standing by our products, Suzuki automobile owners will be protected. All warranties will continue to be fully honored, in accordance with their terms, and automobile parts and service will be provided to consumers through our planned continuation of a service and parts dealer network.

Additionally, we have decided to realign our business to focus on the long-term growth of our Motorcycles/ATV and Marine divisions. We believe the best path to achieve this realignment in an efficient and orderly manner is to restructure our operations under chapter 11."

Read entire press release.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2012 SEMA: Steve Shannon, VP Marketing, Hyundai

Steve Shannon, Vice President of Marketing for Hyundai Motor America discusses company's success, new Santa Fe, L.A. Auto Show and Super Bowl Ads.

Friday, November 2, 2012

2012 SEMA: Michael O'Brien of Hyundai

Michael O'Brien, Vice President of Product Planning and Corporate Planning at Hyundai Motor America discusses the cars specially designed to show off at SEMA in Las Vegas. Watch the video, then read about the vehicles below.

ARK Performance Genesis Coupe R-Spec Track Edition takes the new Genesis Coupe 3.8-liter, direct-injected engine to 395 horsepower with race-like flared over-fenders, an aggressive front splitter, and carbon-fiber hood with heat-extractor vents.

ARK Performance Veloster Alpine Edition has an interior created by JPM Coachworks giving a blend of Alcantara®, Italian leather and WeatherTek® breathable fabric. These materials were chosen specifically for their durability in wet environments, including leather that repels mildew and a WeatherTek material commonly used in snow apparel.

Bisimoto Engineering Elantra GT Concept has forged Arias pistons, Bisimoto con-rods and Turbonetics turbocharger, AEM water-methanol injection and Bisimoto high-pressure injectors. The Bisimoto Elantra GT is one of the highest specific-output Hyundais ever created, muscling 600+ horsepower out of the 1.8-liter “Nu” engine family powerplant.

Cosworth Engineering Genesis Racing Series Concept gives the new Genesis Coupe 3.8-liter, direct-injected engine 389 horsepower at 6400 rpm, and torque of 325 lb.-ft. at 5100 rpm, all with daily-driving civility. The Cosworth has a satin-gloss blue finish, aero front splitter, gunmetal-finish lightweight racing wheels, integrated rear spoiler, and blackout rear diffuser.

FuelCulture Genesis Coupe Turbo Concept is a tuned, Apple Red Genesis Coupe set to achieve 315 horsepower and 242 lb.-ft. of torque.

JP Edition Veloster Turbo is a Hyundai/John Pangilinan partnership that created a brilliant mint green Veloster concept with help from paint supplier BASF. The 1.6-liter, direct-injected Veloster engine receives an ARK performance exhaust, while the suspension adds KW coilovers, Whiteline sway bars and anti-lift kit, and a Brembo® big brake kit. Blacked-out Ray’s Gram Lights Xtreme57 Wheels and Toyo Proxes T1 Sport tires fill in the bright mint green TS Designs fender flares by Jon Sibal.

Hyundai & Kia Adjust MPG Ratings - Customers Get Reimbursed

Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America, following discussions with the EPA, are voluntarily adjusting the fuel economy ratings for approximately 900,000 or 35 percent of 2011-13 model year vehicles sold through October 31, 2012 after procedural errors at the automakers' joint testing operations in Korea led to incorrect fuel economy ratings for select vehicle lines. The 2012 Hyundai/Kia fleet fuel economy level is being reduced by an average of 3 percent – from 27 to 26 MPG.

The fuel economy rating discrepancies resulted from procedural errors during a process called "coastdown" testing at the companies' joint testing operations in Korea. Coastdown testing simulates aerodynamic drag, tire rolling resistance and drivetrain frictional losses and provides the technical data used to program the test dynamometers that generate EPA fuel economy ratings. 

Both Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America are putting in place a comprehensive reimbursement program for affected current and former vehicle owners to cover the additional fuel costs associated with the fuel economy rating change.  Customers will receive a personalized debit card that will reimburse them for their difference in the EPA combined fuel economy rating, based on the fuel price in their area and their own actual miles driven.  In addition, as an acknowledgment of the inconvenience this may cause, we will add an extra 15 percent to the reimbursement amount. Current owners will be able to refresh their debit card for as long as they own the vehicle. Prior owners of affected vehicles who have already sold their cars will also be reimbursed using the same formula.

For more information about reimbursement and a complete list of eligible vehicles, customers can visit and

2012 SEMA: Michael Sprague, Kia Motors America

Kia shows off DC Entertainment comic book superhero cars at SEMA. Kia has seven new vehicles coming over the next 12 months according to Michael Sprague, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Kia Motors America.

The Cyborg Forte 5-door, Batman Optima, Green Lantern Soul, Flash Forte Koup and Aquaman Rio 5-door were all shown in Las Vegas this week.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2012 SEMA Attracts 130,000 Auto Enthusiasts

October 2012 U.S. Auto Sales

General Motors reported October sales of 195,764, up 4.7 percent versus a year ago for its highest October sales in the United States since 2007. Year-over-year sales to retail customers were up 7 percent and sales to fleet customers were down 2 percent.  Year-to-date GM sales are 2,163,479, a 3.6 percent gain over 2011.

Ford Motor Company sold 168,456 vehicles in the U.S. in October, unchanged from a year ago while retail sales are up 2 percent compared to last year. Year-to-date sales are 1,858,270, up 4.9 percent from 2011.
Motor Sales, U.S.A. reported October monthly sales of 155,242, up 15.8 percent. Year-to-date Toyota sales of 1,726,666 is a 30 percent increase over the first 10 months of last year. 

Chrysler Group reported U.S. sales of 126,185, a 10 percent increase compared with sales in October 2011, and the group's best October sales since 2007 and the 31st-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. FIAT brand's 89 percent increase was the largest sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand for the month. Year-to-date sales of 1,376,855 is a 23 percent increase over 2011.

American Honda reported October 2012 U.S. sales of 106,973, an increase of 8.8 percent compared with October 2011. The Honda Division posted October 2012 sales of 94,810, an increase of 8.7 percent compared with October 2011. Acura U.S. October sales of 12,163 increased 9.4 percent compared with October 2011. Year-to-date American Honda sales are 1,173,431, a 22.5 percent rise over 2011.

Nissan North America reported October U.S. sales of 79,685, down 3.2 percent. Nissan Division sales of 70,928, was a decrease of 6 percent while sales of Infiniti vehicles were up 27.6 percent over the prior year, to 8,757 units. Year-to-date sales are 946,169, a gain of 10.5 percent over 2011.

Hyundai Motor America announced sales of 50,271 vehicles in October, a four percent total sales decline compared with the same record-setting period a year ago. Sales are 590,085, up 8.2 percent through the first 10 months of the year versus 2011.

Kia Motors America announced best-ever October sales with 42,452 units sold, a 12.6-percent increase over the same period in 2011. Kia's year-to-date sales are up 17.8-percent over 2011.
Volkswagen of America reported October sales of 34,311, a 22.4 percent increase over prior year sales, and 357,400 year-to-date, a 35.6 percent increase and the best October since 1972. In just 10 months of sales, this marks the best calendar year since 1973. Separately, Audi reported record-setting October sales of 11,708 new vehicles representing a 14.5 percent increase above the previous record set in October of last year and marking the 22th consecutive month of record U.S. sales. Year-to-date sales are 112,402, up 18.1 percent from 2011.

The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported October sales of 32,339 vehicles, an increase of 18.5 percent from the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, BMW Group is up 8.4 percent on sales of 267,267 in the first ten months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

Subaru of America reported 26,119 sales for the month of October, a 30 percent increase over October 2011.  The company also announced record breaking annual sales of  271,582, a 26 percent increase over 2011. This marks the company's fifth year of sales growth and fourth successive sales record.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported record October sales of 23,978 for its Mercedes-Benz models, up 5.9 percent, delivering a record year-to-date total of 215,596 new vehicles to customers, up 11.9 percent. Combined sales of Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles, smart and Sprinter for the month totaled a record for MBUSA overall with sales of 26,642, up 9 percent, bringing the year-to-date total to 240,973, up 15.8 percent.

Mazda North American Operations reported October U.S. sales of 18,622 vehicles, representing an increase of 1.6 percent versus last year. Year-to-date sales through October are up 8.8 percent versus last year.

Mitsubishi sales were 3,981, down 9.1 percent compared to October 2011. That total however is impacted by models that ended their production in 2011.  Total sales of models currently in production were up 7.0 percent for the month compared to October 2011.

Porsche Cars North America announced October 2012 sales of 3,211 vehicles, an increase of 41 percent. For the year, Porsche has sold 28,226 cars in the U.S., a 13 percent increase over last October.

American Suzuki Motor reported October 2012 sales of 2,023 units, a 5 percent increase from October 2011. 

Sales will be updated as manufacturers report.

2014 Subaru Forester To Debut In L.A. In 4 Weeks

The all-new 2014 Subaru Forester crossover SUV will make its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The fourth generation of Forester will offer a new 250 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged BOXER® engine with the debut of a new six-speed manual transmission and available Lineartronic® continuously variable transmissions (CVT) with 6-speed and 8-speed manual modes and Hill Descent Control. The other engine choice is the currently offered naturally aspirated 170 horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder BOXER engine. More on November 28 & 29 from the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 SEMA: Dempsey Diesel Mazda CX-5

This Patrick Dempsey edition Mazda CX-5 with the new 173 horsepower 2.2-liter diesel Skyactiv engine imported from Europe for the Mazda SEMA display won't be available anytime soon in the U.S. The engine may first arrive on our shores in a different Mazda model, like the Mazda6. The high-power clean diesel offers a low 14:1 compression ratio with an output of 129 kW at 4,500 rpm and 420 nM of torque at 2,000 rpm and is mated to a SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission.

But there is good news for CX-5 fans as a more powerful 2.5 liter gasoline engine will be offered starting in February, to give the CX-5 a more gutsy performance than the current 155 horsepower 2.0 liter engine and without much of a sacrifice in fuel economy.

2012 SEMA: Food Network's Guy Fieri's Custom Corvette

It's a Corvette 427 Convertible Collector Edition with Fieri's name embroidered on the seat headrests.

2012 SEMA: $687,000 Chevy Silverado

This 2005 Chevy Silverado took 5 years, 50,000 man hours and over 1,200 hours of airbrush artwork to complete. This tribute to American Heroes, with a 540 cubic inch GM powerplant, will be auctioned with no reserve at the Barrett Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, January 13 - 20, 2013. The men behind this amazing vehicle put a price of $687,000 on it.

For more info call Dale Ison 937-588-2148 or Jeff Cooper 740-821-0800.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Consumer Reports 2012 Annual Auto Reliability Survey

The Consumer Reports 2012 Annual Auto Reliability Survey is out and Toyota's three brands, Scion, Toyota, and Lexus, swept the top spots among the 28 car brands ranked. Of the 27 models in the brand’s lineup, 16 earned the highest rating. The subcompact Toyota Prius C earned Consumer Reports’ top score overall. The hatchback Prius, the larger Prius V, and the new Prius plug-in were also above average.

Four other Japanese makes followed in this order: Mazda, Subaru, Honda, Acura. All of the models produced by the top seven brands had average or better reliability. And of the 90 Japanese models reflected in Consumer Reports’ brand comparison, 86 were average or better, with 35 earning the highest rating. Mazda was buoyed by the predicted-reliability score for the new 2013 CX-5 SUV, which is much better than average. And Subaru’s standing improved, with its redesigned Impreza debuting with top marks and none of its models scoring below average. Honda dropped one spot in the ranking, to sixth place, but its worst vehicle, the Odyssey minivan, improved from below average to average.

Audi ranked 8th for its best showing ever, moving up 18 spots, making it easily the most reliable European make and the top non-Japanese brand.

Next is Infiniti and Kia rounds out the top 10, followed by Cadillac, GMC, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and Chevrolet at 15th. BMW, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Jeep and Volvo round out the top 20.

Buick is 21st with Mini, Chrysler, Dodge and Ram next. The bottom three are Lincoln, Ford and Jaguar. That's right, Ford dropped to next to last while its luxury brand, Lincoln, placed just a notch higher. Only two years ago, Ford was Detroit’s poster child for reliability.

"Sixty percent of Ford-branded models and half of Lincolns were below average in predicted reliability, and none placed above average,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports. Several factors contributed to Ford’s decline in Consumer Reports’ reliability rankings. A few new or redesigned models, including the Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus, came out of the gate with more problems than normal. Ford has also added the MyFord/MyLincoln Touch electronic infotainment system, which has been problematic so far, to many vehicles. In addition, three historically reliable models—the Ford Escape, Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ—are not included in the analysis; the three were redesigned for 2013 and CR doesn’t yet have reliability data on them.

For more details subscribe to Consumer Reports and/or pick up the issue.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ron Hill, Retired General Motors Designer On Influences and Inspiration

Ron Hill was honored at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena where he graduated in 1954 launching a 31 year design career at General Motors followed by 15 years of teaching at his alma mater. Hill joined Art Center in 1985 as Chair of the Industrial Design Department and in 1992 was appointed Chair of the Transportation Design Department, where he stayed until retiring in 2000.

Hill explains in this interview that at age 23, fresh out of school, he designed the rear end and fin treatment for the 1957 Eldorado Biarritz. Hill was involved in almost every area of GM’s design projects working in Germany, England and Brazil. As a chief designer at Chevrolet, Pontiac and Buick, he oversaw the mid-engine Corvette and the 1965 Corvair line, along with the 1972 and 1973 LeMans, GTO and Firebird programs, all 1973 and 1974 Buick programs and advanced Chevrolet products and advanced Cadillac projects such as the Eldorado. Hill and his team designed the forerunner to the 1978 Monte Carlo, new Camaro/Firebird designs, small car projects such as the Chevette, and the original concept vehicle for the Pontiac mid-engine Fiero project, which earned him the Industrial Design Society of America Award for Design Excellence in 1984.

Monday, October 22, 2012

General Motors Designer Clay Dean Looks Back and Forward

Clay Dean, Executive Director, GM Advanced Global Design and Cadillac Brand Director is responsible for General Motor's forwarding looking concepts and strategies for advanced transportation solutions with a focus on brand building. Clay discusses his visit to the Art Center College of Design Inspired Design Car Classic and what we can expect from GM, specifically Cadillac and Chevy at the upcoming Los Angeles and Detroit Auto Shows.

Clay works out of studios in North Hollywood, California, as well as the UK and Warren, Michigan. He also acts in a Cadillac brand champion role as a liason between Design and Marketing determining product & brand strategy and influencing communications events, activities and product technologies.

Art Center College of Design Stages Inspired Design

Many of the world's outstanding car designers are graduates of the 82 year old Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Each year they hold an event with a carefully selected wide array of vehicles that have inspired designs and designers and today ranged from a 1914 Ford to 2013 models and future concept cars.

Stewart Reed, Chairman of Transportation Design Art Center College of Design, discusses the 11th annual "Inspired Design" Art Center Car Classic.

Reed, a graduate of the Art Center, worked at Chrysler Advanced Design, where he introduced a mini-van concept, at Toyota’s U.S. studio, Calty Design, as chief designer and Prince Corporation, (now Johnson Controls), as Vice President of Design. Reed has designed and fabricated over 20 concept vehicles throughout his career.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Jay Leno Drives Ecojet To Pasedena Car Event

Jay Leno arrived at a car event in Pasedena in his 650 horsepower Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine Ecojet car which is made from a modified Corvette Z06 hydroformed aluminum frame that was first unveiled at the 2006 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The loud Ecojet that spews jet fumes is constructed from carbon fiber over Kevlar and is not that easy to exit as Jay showed us today.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Håkan Samuelsson Replaces Stefan Jacoby As CEO of Volvo Car Group

Håkan Samuelsson
Stefan Jacoby
Håkan Samuelsson, a current Board member, becomes the new President & CEO of Volvo Car Group effective immediately replacing Stefan Jacoby who will leave following "an amicable agreement" with the Board of Directors. Håkan Samuelsson has 35 years of experience in the automotive industry leadership positions, most recently as Chairman & CEO of MAN SE, a European supplier of trucks, buses, diesel engines, turbo-machinery, and special gear units, between 2005 and 2009. Since 2010 he has been an independent member of the Board of Directors of Volvo Car Group. Jan Gurander, Volvo’s chief financial officer, stepped in as acting CEO when Jacoby had a mild stroke last month. Gurander and sales chief Doug Speck handled Jacoby’s media responsibilities at the Paris Auto Show September 27th and 28th. We wish my good friend Stefan Jacoby the best for a speedy recovery.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Docking For Donuts: Endeavor On Its Final Journey

The Endeavor, one of just three of five space shuttles left that went into orbit and the last built, recorded 25 missions in 22 years circling the Earth 4,671 times spending 299 days in space. It took Endeavor two days to go the last 12 miles from LAX to the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles to cap it's 123 million mile journey. Some 400 trees had to be cut, power poles were moved, 2,700 steel plates were laid on parts of the route so underground water and sewer systems didn't feel the 80 ton weight of the shuttle and its transporter moving down the road at 2 miles an hour. More than 1,000 police officers and 200 firefighters helped Endeavor maneuver through the city past about a million spectators.

The positive energy of the shuttle celebration and my photo (above) reminds of a poem that one of my high school math teachers once shared which is perfectly fitting:

    “As you ramble through Life, Brother,
    Whatever be your goal.
    Keep your eye upon the doughnut,
    And not upon the hole.“

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2013 Scion iQ EV Arrives Into A smart ED Space

The 2013 Scion iQ EV battery-electric 4-seater city commuter car designed for car-sharing programs, in urban and campus environments has arrived in the U.S. after production began in Japan last month. The iQ EV has high-output lithium-ion battery which, in ideal stop and go driving conditions, allows the 12 kWh battery to provide an estimated range of up to 50 miles on a full charge. To fully recharge takes approximately 3 hours at 240V. Maximum output from the drivetrain is 47 kW (63 hp) with a maximum torque of 120 lbs.-ft.  In S range the iQ EV accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 13.4 seconds, and from 30 to 50 mph in 7 seconds. Its top speed is 78 mph.

Its short 78-inch wheel base is 4.5 inches longer than the smart fourtwo, presumably to make room for the back seat, but will be still highly maneuverable in congested urban areas and ideal for tight parking spots. Approximately 90 iQ EVs will be available for fleet and car-sharing applications while the competitor, albeit a 2-seater, 2014 smart fourtwo electric drive (ED) arrives in the Spring, also in limited supply.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2013 Mazda6 Wagon Looks Great In Diesel

The all-new 2013 Mazda6 wagon (known as Atenza in Japan) was introduced in Paris last month at the same time the 2013 Mazda6 sedan was being shown in Moscow and will go on sale in Europe later this year. Both models feature Mazda's new SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine which many of us are hoping will make it to the U.S., possibly in the CX-5 SUV, to give us affordable long range, high speed, highway fuel efficiency. They've announced we'll see the diesel engine in the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year. The SKYACTIV-D 2.2 diesel engine is available in either Standard Power or High Power versions and both engine types comply with Europe's Euro 6 emissions standards. The new Mazda6 will also be available with the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 and SKYACTIV-G 2.5 direct injection gasoline engines.

Is the 1960s station wagon making a resurgence? Duh... crossovers. Will diesel catch on in the U.S. like it has Europe? If they are offered in more models like affordable SUVs.