Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween - Scary Power - Dodge Viper, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Halloween names and colors - scary power. The bright orange Dodge Viper with a 645 horsepower 8.4-liter, overhead-valve, 20-valve, SFI, all-aluminum V-10 engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission and a top speed of 206 mph. Behind the Viper is the Halloween green 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat with a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat engine, producing 707 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque, bragging to be the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Video: 2015 Ford Edge Starts At $28,995 Early Next Year

Cristina Aquino - Ford Edge
2015 Ford Edge, all-new from wheels to roof, is a two-row front-wheel-drive or all-wheel utility vehicle on the Ford Fusion platform, coming with a standard estimated 245 horsepower twin-scroll 2.0-liter EcoBoost® four-cylinder engine while the new Sport model will be powered by an estimated 300 horsepower 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine. The premium-level Titanium series joins the Edge lineup. Available driver-assist technologies include adaptive steering system, enhanced active park assist, adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, 180-degree front camera with washer, glove box-mounted airbag system, inflatable rear safety belts and hands-free liftgate. The 2015 Ford Edge will go on sale in North America early next year starting at $28,995 (including destination and delivery charges).

Ford Edge Product Marketing Manager Cristina Aquino discusses the new Ford Edge.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lincoln Spoof Ads Could Give MKC Sales A Boost

Jim Carrey spoofs Matthew McConaughey's Lincoln ads on Saturday Night Live last Saturday night. Very funny but Lincoln may have the last laugh if the series of spoofs help MKC sales. The SNL spoof ads on the channel linked above had almost 6 million views at the time of writing Wednesday evening.

Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy intentional but humorous Dodge Durango ads translated very well into sales.

Elon Musk: Tesla's Goal - Compelling and Affordable Electric Vehicles

Elon Musk, Chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors, in a one-on-one interview format at the MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium last Friday, focused primarily on his SpaceX venture which was more aligned to his student and facility audience but he did discuss Tesla and the $5 billion battery factory to be built in Nevada, that was announced in early September and the math behind the world of creating electric cars. It was an interesting event, as was my entire experience at MIT in Cambridge, Mass.

"The gigafactory is the least bad solution that we could come up with" to make batteries, according to Musk.

In his words:
"If we want to make electric cars we need enough batteries for the electric cars. Last year all lithium-ion production combined was 30 gigawatt hours approximately, that's nothing. Or at least it's nothing when you consider if you want to make half a million electric cars a year that's how much you need. There are a hundred million new cars made every year. There are 2 billion gasoline or diesel cars on the road worldwide. So just do the basic math, you don't need just one gigafactory, you need like 200 gigafactories just for new car production and that assumes you're going to replace the fleet at the existing rate which has a refresh every twenty years.

Given that we want to try and get to full capacity at our Freemont plant in California of half million vehicles a year, we need half a million vehicles a year of batteries. Obviously, we can't use all of the other battery factories combined because people want cellphones, laptops and other things. Therefore we have to roll this factory.

We have a great partner in Panasonic. Panasonic is taking care of the cell formation part of it. There are actually many aspects to this - there are anode, cathode, sepralator, electrolite, can at the precursor level. Raw materials coming in from the mines that feed into a variety of other companies like Sumitomo Metals and Mining, Hitashi and others. They do the precursor processing and then Panasonic takes the anode and cathode materials separate and whatnot and puts it into a cell. Then it goes into the Tesla section which creates the module, which is all the electronics, packaging, conductors, safety mechanisms, cooling loops, then the modules go into the pack which has a lot of crash structure associated with it. Then the pack goes in the car. Tesla is the landlord of the whole thing as well."

Musk says the goal of Tesla is to make something "compelling and affordable".

"Everything will go fully electric one day except for rockets", says Musk.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Consumer Reports 2014 Annual Auto Reliability Survey

Scion xB - Most Reliable New Car

Consumer Reports 2014 Annual Auto Reliability Survey, based on subscribers’ experiences with 1.1 million vehicles, predict how well new cars will do. The biggest complaints remain infotainment systems and associated electronics like audio, navigation, and in-car communications systems that include the touch screen, unified multi-function controller, portable music interface, Bluetooth pairing, voice-command system and backup camera.

Topping the list of 28 brands are Japanese nameplates Lexus, Toyota, Mazda, Honda. Audi rounds out the top 5. The Toyota Tundra won top pickup truck honors.

Buick ranks 6th with all their vehicles receiving the reliable designation helping make General Motors the top American brand. Subaru is 7th, followed by Scion with its Scion xB listed as Consumer Reports most reliable car. Porsche was next with Kia rounding out the top 10 on the strength of the Soul and Cadenza.

Acura, Volvo, Hyundai, BMW and Lincoln take the next five spots. While Nissan in 16th place as the Altima, Sentra and Pathfinder were considered unreliable. Volkswagen was next followed by Cadillac led by the CTS model. GMC at 19 was dragged down by the redesigned Sierra pickup. Infiniti rounded out the top 20 as the Q50 sedan and QX50 SUV were plagued by infotainment complaints.

Chevrolet at 21 on the list, had the Corvette and Impala earn reliable ratings while the Silverado was below average and the Cruze had issues. The Chrysler nameplate ranked 22nd followed by Ford with the Fusion and Explorer now rated reliable. Mercedes-Benz was dragged to 24th by the redesigned S-Class and CLA sedans.

Doug Betts - 2010 NAIAS
The bottom 4 nameplates all belong to Chrysler which has cost Quality chief Doug Betts his job. Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat are last. The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Cherokee had problems, while the Fiat 500L came in as the least reliable vehicle. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles named Mark Chernoby Head of Quality to replace Betts.

Betts joined Chrysler in 2007 after working at Nissan and Chrysler for more than 21 years. He took over Chrysler quality in June 2009, served on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group Executive Council and was also in charge of quality for Fiat. And apparently this survey has cost him his job which tells you the significance of this survey.

For detailed information on all vehicles in the study, subscribe to Consumer

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Honda HR-V Entry Crossover To Debut At L.A. Auto Show

The all-new Honda HR-V entry crossover, built on the same global compact platform as the Fit, will make its North American debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show on Nov. 19.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Test Drive: Tesla Model S P85 - Amazing

A twenty minute Tesla test drive proved to be the highlight of my two-day street and race track test drive event. The Tesla provided incredibly powerful smooth acceleration with no gear transitions because there are no gears - solid power that made you wonder how much g-force was pushing you back into your seat. The Tesla Model S P85, with a 265 mile range from its 470 horsepower electric motor, can sprint from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds hitting a top speed of 130 mph, sells for $95,740 (including $1,170 Destination and Regulatory Doc Fee) according to the Tesla website. The lease deal shown on the Tesla website appears more afordable with $7,027 due at signing (without any rebates) and $1,327 per month (without deducting gas cost for a conventional vehicle). The Tesla comes with an 8 year, infinite mile battery and drive unit warranty and Supercharging and Alcantara headliner are included. Tesla is taking orders for December delivery. The Tesla is amazing.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

2015 Dodge Charger Starts At $28,990

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack
Let's run through the 2015 Dodge Charger line-up pricing with four engine choices and newly introduced all-wheel drive models starting with the new 2015 Charger SE model powered by a 292 horsepower Pentastar V-6 engine now mated to the TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission for an EPA estimated 31 mpg on the highway. Features include a larger 5.0-inch Uconnect touchscreen and new 7-inch full-color driver information display, and a starting U.S. MSRP of $28,990 (including $995 destination). The 2015 Dodge Charger SE AWD starts at $31,990 and includes a fuel-saving active transfer case with front axle disconnect, P235/55R19 all-season performance tires on 19-inch dual five-spoke cast-aluminum wheels with a polished face and graphite pockets.

Charger SXT models for 2015 now include Uconnect Access, 18-inch aluminum wheels, LED fog lamps and starts at $30,990. Charger SXT AWD models have a starting U.S. MSRP of $33,990 with the same attributes as the SE AWD.

All 370-horsepower Dodge Charger R/T models now come standard with the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, paddle shifters, rear spoiler and large 20-inch wheels for 2015 and start at $33,990.

All-new 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack model with a 485 horsepower 6.4-liter HEMI V-8, punching out 475 lb.-ft. of torque, has red four-piston Brembo brakes and 20-by-9-inch aluminum wheels starts at $40,990 and no gas guzzler tax. More than enough power with a broad torque range that provided immediate acceleration at all speeds with minimal pedal pressure. My first impression was that I had a lot more horsepower than advertised. The Charger is the amazing muscle car that it's touted to be and I proved it at high speeds on the Willow Springs Race Track (pictured above).

2015 Dodge Charger SRT
All-new Charger SRT Hellcat has a 707 horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 Hellcat engine, producing 650 lb.-ft. of torque and recently achieved an NHRA-certified 11.0-second quarter-mile time, starts at $64,990, including $1,700 gas guzzler tax.

New for 2015, the Plus Group provides more than $3,700 of comfort and convenience features with an MSRP of only $2,000 on Charger SXT and R/T models and includes ventilated Nappa leather sport seats, heated steering wheel and second-row seats, high-intensity discharge headlamps, polished cast-aluminum wheels with Graphite pockets, ParkSense rear park assist system, ParkView rear backup camera and more.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gone Girl Movie - Huge Product Placement For Volvo XC90

Gone Girl is the number one movie at the box office, grossing $77.9 million in two weeks of theatrical release, with the Volvo XC90, a huge star driven by lead character, Ben Affleck. A timely and enormous product placement ahead of the all-new Volvo XC90 and a big boost for Volvo which is riding the popularity of the smaller XC60.

photo courtesy: @volvocarsus

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Honda CR-V Wins 2015 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year

The Honda CR-V has won Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year for 2015 beating out 18 other all-new or significantly updated SUVs with improved fuel economy, Honda's Earth Dreams Technology™ powertrain, the launch of an all-new Touring trim, the debut of Honda Sensing™ assistive and driver safety technologies and the CR-V's excellent value for money paradigm.

Motor Trend editors were "especially impressed by Honda's responsive and efficient continuously-variable transmission and sophisticated safety systems – particularly the smart and seamlessly integrated Lane Keeping Assist system. Efficient, practical, and a joy to drive; the 2015 Honda CR-V does virtually everything well."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Shares Start Trading On NYSE

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange today, opening at $9 a share and closing down 8 cents at $8.92 on volume of 5,843,576 shares on a day when the Dow fell 223 points.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Test Drive: 2015 Acura RDX Starts At $35,990 - Great Value

It's a great looking vehicle and the drive matched the looks. The 2015 Acura RDX AWD with the technology package starts at $41,090 (MSRP including $895 destination charge) and is the top of four RDX choices - the trim level that I test drove. The front wheel drive RDX starts at $35,990 with a sliding sunroof as standard. AWD adds $1,400 and the technology package $3,700.

The biggest surprise was the 25.3 highway mpg from a 273 horsepower V6 engine with the air conditioning running generously. (286 actual miles on 11.3 gallons) The published highway mpg is 27 and obviously varies with driving behavior. The highway passing power at high speeds was excellent. 

The technology package has a long list of features from a satellite communication system with voice recognition navigation and rearview camera to an amazing premium audio system with 410-watt amplifier feeding 10 speakers. The standard 360-watt amplifier with 7 speakers should be more than sufficient.

My wife always asks "what's the safety ranking?", and the Acura RDX with its side airbags, front and rear head curtain airbags and front seat-mounted torso airbags gets top crash worthiness rankings from the Institute For Highway Safety.

The ride fit my taste, not too stiff or truck-like and not too soft that would induce motion sickness. The instrument cluster is intuitive to use without much tutoring needed and ergonomically laid out within reach. The voice recognition proved a little accuracy challenged, had problems getting my numbers correctly. The second row of seats fall easily to expand cargo space, in fact, there are levers in the inside rear on either side for quickly collapsing the seats.

For those wanting to "sit higher above the traffic", my jumbo SUV eye level is about five inches above my RDX sight line, not as significant as I would have thought. Syncing my Blackberry Z10 smartphone to the RDX's handsfree system was quick and easy but must be done while the vehicle is stopped. Steering wheel controls for the radio and information features work well. The back seat roominess was also impressive and with the seats down there's plenty of cargo space.

The new RDX body style and powertrain that was introduced in 2013 still stands out. RDX sales this year through September are at 33,539, down just 1.3 percent compared to the first nine months of last year. The larger, pricier Acura MDX, with sales of 34,803, up 38.8 percent,  might be taking some RDX buyers who prefer a third row option. The best-selling compact SUV Honda CR-V which has sales of 241,015 in nine months this year and getting frequent updates could also be attracting a few RDX shoppers.

An Acura RDX out-the-door for under $40,000 is a great value purchase - you're getting a lot more than just good looks. The Acura RDX is definitely on my buy list.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Starts at $115,195 By Yearend

The Porsche 911 Carrera GTS second generation models, with a 430 horsepower engine in coupe and cabriolet versions, in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive will fit between the 911 Carrera S and race track tested 911 GT3 bringing the 911 family to nineteen sports cars which range from 350 to 560 horsepower. The 911 Carrera GTS starts at $115,195, while the 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet starts at $127,095. The 911 Carrera 4 GTS will have an MSRP of $121,895 in Coupe and $133,795 in Cabriolet form (including destination charge of $995). The four models will be available at U.S. dealers by the end of 2014. 

The 911 Carrera GTS sprints from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds (Cabriolet: 4.0 seconds) with top track speeds for the GTS models ranging from 187 to 190 miles per hour, depending on drivetrain and transmission. Standard equipment includes Bi-Xenon™ headlights with the Porsche Dynamic Light System and the Sport exhaust system. The Alcantara® interior features leather-trimmed sport seats with center panels made of made of Alcantara®. Also standard are 20-inch center lock wheels, painted in gloss black.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Orange County International Auto Show - Cars To See This Weekend

Here are a few new vehicles at the Anaheim Convention Center - a stones throw from Disneyland - to see this weekend on display along with a variety of cars you can actually drive - it's the Orange County International Auto Show. 

Mazda MX-5
Nissan Murano
Ford F-150
Dodge Viper
Acura TLX
Lexus NX200t

Thursday, October 2, 2014

2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Starts At $120,425 This Month

2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, launching in mid-October, will start at an MSRP of $120,425 (including $925 destination & delivery fee) for the S550 4MATIC Coupe and $161,825 for the S63 AMG 4MATIC Coupe. The rear-wheel drive V12-powered S65 AMG Coupe launches in December priced at $231,825.

BMW 2 Series Convertible, BMW X6 World Debut In Paris

The BMW 2 Series Convertible, the four-seater successor to the BMW 1 Series Convertible, has an electrically operated soft-top that can be opened or closed in 20 seconds when travelling at up to 31 mph. The BMW 2 Series Convertible is the first model to offer the new-generation Navigation system Professional, which allows navigation data to be updated “over the air” via the embedded SIM card.
The new edition of the BMW X6, with three BMW TwinPower Turbo engine choices driving the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, has bi-xenon headlights, 19-inch light-alloy wheels, automatic tailgate operation, the eight-speed Steptronic sport transmission, leather trim, two-zone climate control and the Driving Assistant package from BMW ConnectedDrive. Suspension choices include a Dynamic adaptive suspension package, Comfort adaptive suspension package or Professional adaptive suspension package with Dynamic Damper Control, air suspension for the rear axle, Dynamic Performance Control and Dynamic Drive active roll stabilization.

Volkswagen XL Sport Concept

The Volkswagen XL Sport concept, based on the XL1 and powered by the V-Twin adapted from the new Ducati 1199 Superleggera two-cylinder motorcycle, the car can reach an top speed of 168 mph on just 197 horsepower. Torque from the V-Twin engine (99 pound-feet) is transmitted to the rear axle via a seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission. From a standing start, the XL Sport takes 5.7 seconds to reach 62 mph.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September 2014 U.S. Auto Sales

General Motors dealers delivered 223,437 vehicles in the United States in September. Total deliveries were up 19.4 percent compared with a year ago. Retail deliveries, which are sales to individual consumers, were up 17 percent. Fleet deliveries were up 30 percent. Year-to-date sales are 2,207,888, a 4.3 percent gain over 2013.

Ford Motor Company U.S. sales totaled 180,175 vehicles in September, down 2.7 percent from a year ago. Retail sales of 137,297 vehicles increased 2 percent. Year-to-date sales are 1,884,617, down 0.5 percent.

Chrysler Group reported U.S. sales of 169,890, a 19 percent increase compared with sales in September 2013 for the group's best September sales since 2005. Year-to-date sales are 1,556,059, up 15 percent from last year.

American Honda reported September 2014 Honda and Acura vehicle sales of 118,223, an increase of 12 percent versus September of last year. The Honda division had its best September since 2007 with sales of 104,391 vehicles, while Acura posted sales of 13,832 in the same period.  Year-to-date total American Honda sales reached 1,160,605 vehicles.

Toyota, Scion and Lexus reported total September 2014 sales results of 167,279, a 1.7 percent increase from year-ago month. Toyota division posted September 2014 sales of 145,427, up 0.3 percent and Lexus division sales were 21,852, up 11.9 percent compared to September 2013. Year-to-date Toyota, Scion and Lexus sales are 1,794,788, up 5.7 percent from last year. Toyota brand sales are 1,574,105, a gain of 4.4 percent over 2013 and Lexus sales are 220,683, a rise of 15.7 percent.

Nissan Group announced total U.S. sales for September 2014 of 102,955, an increase of 18.5 percent over the prior year and a September record. Year-to-date sales of 1,063,272 is a 13 percent gain over last year.

Hyundai Motor America announced September sales of 56,010, up 1.6 percent versus the same period in 2013. Year-to-date sales of 557,458 is an increase of 1.7 percent over last year. 

Subaru of America reported sales of 41,517, a 31 percent increase for September 2014 over 2013, resulting in a September sales record. Year-to-date sales of 375,485, was an increase of 20 percent over the same period last year.  Subaru has now seen 34 consecutive months of year-over-year growth and is well on its way to its sixth successive annual sales record.

Kia Motors America September sales of 40,628 was up 6.9 percent over the same period last year. Year-to-date sales of 445,017 is up 7.1 percent over last year.

Volkswagen of America September sales were 25,996, a drop of 18.6 percent from 2013 while year-to-date sales of 270,874 is a 14 percent decline from last year. Separately, Audi reported September 2014 sales of 14,917 vehicles, an increase of 14.2 percent, the 45th consecutive month of record monthly U.S. sales for the brand. Audi U.S. sales year-to-date sales of 130,983 vehicles is a 14.5 percent rise over 2013.

Mercedes-Benz reported the best September sales in its history with 27,315 vehicles sold, increasing 10.6 percent from September 2013. Sprinter sales totaled 2,208 for the month, combining with 748 sales at smart (up 19.7 percent) to bring total September volumes at Mercedes-Benz USA to 30,271, an increase of 10.2 percent. Year-to-date sales for Mercedes-Benz reached 233,211, up 8.4 percent. Adding volumes of 17,785 for Sprinter and 8,080 for smart, MBUSA achieved a year-to-date grand total of 259,076.

BMW brand September vehicle sales of 25,586 was an increase of compared to September, 2013. Year-to-date, the BMW brand sales are 236,591, up 11.3 percent compared to the first nine months of 2013.

Mazda North American Operations reported September U.S. sales of 23,980 vehicles, representing an increase of 6.7 percent versus last year. Year-to-date sales of 240,953 through September are up 9.3 percent versus last year.

Volvo Cars of North America reported U.S. September sales of 4,667, an 11.4 percent increase month-over-month. Year-to-date sales are down 9 percent versus the first nine months of 2013.  

Porsche Cars North America announced September 2014 sales of 3,607 vehicles. So far in 2014, PCNA has delivered 35,366 vehicles in the U.S., an increase of 12.1 percent over the same time period last year.

Maserati North America sales, driven by the new Ghibli and Quattroporte, was 1,367 in September, a 241 percent increase compared to the same month last year and a 300 percent year-over-year increase. 

Sales are updated when manufacturers report.