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Auto Unleashed goes to Paris

We really loved the first auto show we attended, the Geneva one, back in March, so, tomorrow morning we’ll be leaving for Paris, to take part in the hottest event of this Autumn, the Paris Motor Show. Though press days start on Thursday, October 2, being our first trip to the French capital, we’ve decided to leave a couple of days earlier to get to see some of Paris’ famous landmarks, like the Tour Eiffel or the Louvre museum. We’re really anxious to see the city and the show, especially with a lot of cool debuts being announced by almost all of the carmakers. So, posting will probably be slower this week, depends a lot on the internet connection from our hotel, but we’ll be back with all the highlights of the show.

So, until next time, au revoir, mes amis!


Video: BMW Concept X1 teaser

BMW has uploaded a video on its website, in which we can get a glimpse of the BMW Concept X1, which will debut next week at the Paris Motor Show. The concept previews the production version of the X1 which, according to our friends from BMW Blog, will be available with both four wheel drive and rear wheel drive. Apparently, the car won’t be placed under the X3, in the BMW range, but more of something closer to the 3 Series touring. Sporting a range of four and six cylinders diesel and petrol engines, the X1 will first be marketed in Europe. Enjoy the video!


Fourth Citroen GT Concept teaser photo released

While Lamborghini decides to keep a total mistery around their upcoming four door coupe, Citroen has decided to take another aproach. Their Citroen GT Concept is doing some sort of striptease, because, with every teaser photo released, the car get more and more unveiled. After we’ve seen three teasers so far, the fourth one shows us a little more than the last one, we get to see a partial view of the front part. Just as a reminder, all we know so far is that the vehicle is a full scale concept of the Citroen sports car features in the upcoming GranTurismo Prologue5 video game for Playstation 3, that will make its debut at the Paris Motor Show.

Photo Gallery: Citroen GT Concept


Spanish bank offers free cars for new deposits

This definitely has to be one of the most interesting marketing strategies ever. Spanish bank Banesto (a subsidiary of Santander, Spain’s largest banking organisation and owner of British banks Alliance & Leicester and Abbey), has announced that they plan on rolling a campaign that will offer brand new, all expenses paid, cars to customers that deposit between €18,000 ($26,400) and €160,000 ($235,000) for 24 to 36 months. That sounds crazy, right?

But that’s actually not that convenient. Because, first of all, you don’t get any interest on the money, and second, the cars are not really that appealing. For a €99,000 deposit you get a Citroen C2, for €120,000 you get a Citroen C3 Furior, while for the maximum €160,000 you get a Citroen C4 diesel. Is it worth it locking your money for so long for these cars? Don’t think so! Anyways, it sure was interesting to read about it.


Lamborghini teaser photos put together. The four-door coupe to be called Estoque?

A member of the LamboPower forum has put together the teaser photos recently released by Lamborghini and came up with a partial rear view of the four-door coupe that will debut next week at the Paris Motor Show. What do you say about it? Like it? We think it looks like an Alfa, but still, we’re pretty excited about the car and can’t wait to see it live next week.

But that’s not all. Rumors showed up saying that the car will be called the Lamborghini Estoque. Pretty funny name, which comes from a special sword used by a bull fighters, and who, according to World Car Fans, is related to the Lamborghini Espada, the 2-door 4-seater produced between 1968 and 1978. So far, no official reaction from Lamborghini.


Carmakers hit by European Parliament decision regarding emissions

The European Parliament’s environmental committee voted against delaying the new emission standards introduction dates. This means that, starting with 2012, new cars will not be permitted to emit more than 130 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre starting in 2012, and the limit will go down to 95 grammes by 2020, subject to a review in 2014. The current CO2 emissions allowed are 158 grammes per kilometre.

“It’s a defeat for the corporate lobbyists who were trying to get the committee to take a step backwards in their greenhouse gas reductions,” said Chris Davies, a British liberal MEP. This decision affects the entire auto industry, especially the carmakers that produce large-engined and high-emission vehicles, such as BMW or Porsche. Carmakers had lobbied against the European Commission’s proposals, requesting to to extend the deadline to 2015, reduce penalties for non-compliance and allow carmakers to exempt some brands.

However, the European Comission approved a set of rules that allow carmakers to use “eco-innovations” such as low-rolling-resistance tyres when calculating their CO2 cuts, and also approved special arrangements for low-volume manufacturers such as Lotus, Aston Martin and Jaguar and Land Rover.

Carmakers are still not satisfied, claiming that about 60 percent of the cars produced in 2012 are either on sale now or in the final stage of development and saying that the deadline was unachievable, given the industry’s long product cycles.


GM to invest $370 million in Volt engine plant

GM’s Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner announced that GM will invest $370 million in a new manufacturing plant, located in Flint, Michigan. The 552,000-square-foot plant is expected to be ready in 2010, will create 300 jobs and will build a 1.4 liter turbo engine for the recently announced Chevrolet Cruze and a 1.4 liter engine for the Chevrolet Volt.

Wagoner said “We are confident that Flint is exactly the right place to build our all-new powertrain plant,” while Gov. Jennifer Granholm added “Our competitive business climate, outstanding work force and aggressive strategy to diversify our economy put us in a strong position to win this project and be the state that helps GM produce the cars and trucks that will help end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.” Actually, things aren’t going very well for the Flint community. Currently, GM employs about 6,000 workers in five facilities located here, but that’s a huge drop, considering that once there were 60,000 GM employees here.

With this investment, GM (which will receive millions in tax incentives to build the Volt) totals $9 billion invested in Michigan in the last 10 years and more than $42 billion in the U.S.


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Paris debut for the Volkswagen Passat BlueTDI

Volkswagen’s stand at next week’s Paris Motor Show already sounded very interesting with the new Golf VI and its GTI version. Today, the German carmaker announced another premiere scheduled for the French show, the VW Passat BlueTDI.

The BlueTDI diesels are the cleanest engines VW has ever produced, comply to Euro-6 standards and they’ll go into production on the Passat starting next year. Europe will get them first, and though nothing was mention about the United States, the car will definitely be available here too. Volkswagen already offers BlueTDI engines, Euro 5 compliant, for the Tiguan and the Jetta, but the one featured in Paris represents the next generation, which combined with the dual-clutch DSG gearbox reduces CO2 emissions by up to 28%.

The Volkswagen Passat BlueTDI is powered by the 2.0-liter common-rail engine which now delivers 143hp, with a fuel consumption of 5.2 liters/100km (45 US mpg) and 139 g/km CO2 emissions for the Passat sedan, and 5.5 liters/100km (42.7 US mpg) and emits 144 g/km CO2 for the Variant.


Largest US Chevrolet dealer closes its doors

After two weeks ago one of the largest Hummer dealers closed down, today, the largest Chevrolet dealer in the United States, Bill Heard Enterprises Inc., announced that, under the current economical situation, they cannot continue their business anymore. The Columbus based company has 2,700 employees and owns thirteen dealerships (five in Georgia and eight in Alabama, Florida, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas) and a fourteenth one in Scottsdale, Arizona, which closed on September 12.

GM spokeswoman Susan Garontakos said that all Chevrolet warranties will be honored by GM at other nearby dealerships, and GM and Heard will do some research to see if some of the dealerships could be reopened. “Wherever it makes sense to keep a point open, and it’s attractive enough for other dealers to take a look at it and keep it operating, we’ll be doing that,” she said.



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Cerberus to buy the rest of Chrysler from Daimler?

Recently, several reports showed up, pointing out that Daimler is looking to sell it’s remaining 19.9 stake in Chrysler. While there are offers from several companies, Daimler is currently negotiating with Cerberus Capital Management LP, who, after paying $7.2 billion for 80.1 percent from Chrysler, is currently looking to buy the rest of the remaining stock. The reason Cerberus wants to buy Daimler’s share is because it would allow them to be independent from the German company, without having to ask for permission for entering joint ventures, partnerships or even an outright sale, plus that Daimler would no longer disclose any financial information about Chrysler, which it now is required to do.

The negotiations were confirmed by both companies. “We can confirm that we are in talks with Cerberus regarding the redemption of our 19.9 percent interest in Chrysler,” Daimler spokesman Han Tjan told The Detroit News, while Cerberus spokesman Peter Duda said that the company he’s representing “approached Daimler about the possible redemption of its 19.9 percent stake in Chrysler. We are currently in discussions.” Both companies announced that if the sale goes through, that doesn’t mean they’ll drop their joint projects, such as diesel engines.

While Daimler valued its Chrysler holding at 916 million Euros ($1.34 billion) at the end of 2007, after the loss Chrysler registered this year, the valued went down to about 171 million Euros ($250 million) at the end of June. Chrysler was bought by Daimler in 1998, for $36 billion, in a move that shook the entire auto industry and created one of the most powerful companies, DaimlerChrysler. However, things didn’t work out as good as Daimler was hoping, the Auburn Hills carmaker losing $1.6 billion last year. In August, Daimler sold 80.1 percent of its Chrysler share to Cerberus Capital Management for $7.2 billion.


Ford F450 Harley Davidson, never did a gas guzzler look so good

So now, the fuel prices are going down, what better time than to launch a new pick-up truck right? Or at least that’s what the guys at FOrd considered when they launched this special edition of their F450 pick-up truck which they customized in partnership with Harley Davidson. It encompasses everything a big American truck should be, pure manly looks and a big engine, with no regards to the fuel average of pollution norms.

As special features will be exclusive to this car are quite a few intersting ones. Each of the models will get a blue flame paint job, to really stand out between all the other pick-up trucks, which is continued on the inside on the instrument gauge. Other features are perforated black leather seats for the passenger comfort, with the leather continuing on the door faces and dash board. Of course, being a collaboration with Harley Davidson, the logos of the famous motorcycle manufacturer are placed in key sport all around the car. All in all it looks pretty good, but it’s exclusive for the Americans, with little chance for it to appear in other territories. (more…)

Fiat to debut in Paris its new PUR-O2 line

Fiat is going all green, realising that eco friendlyness is the new trend in car manufacturers. The Italian producer has just annonuced that it will premiere its new line of eco friendly cars entitled PUR-O2 where else than in Paris, next week. The models selected to be in the first batch of green-er cars will be the hit retro car, the 500, their contender to the title of hot hatch, the Bravo and the Croma. Each of them will have special features and will be branded with the PUR-O2 badge. The features that will make the cars more economical are a new, special, Bosch made Star&Stop system, special low rolling resistance tires, an aerodynamic body kit which will improve airflow, and tweaked up gearboxes which will improve the fuel efficiency.

Of course the most talked about model which will be graced with the PUR-O2 badge is the 500. Although speculations have been made that Fiat had a hybrid version of the little car in the works, this is as close as they got to that goal. The car will be powered by Fiat’s 1.2 litre petrol engine which will develop only 119 gr/km of CO2 emissions. As of the moment, these are the only data we have on these future models, but be sure to check back for our full coverage of the Paris show starting next week. (more…)

Volkswagen Golf VI GTI officially unveiled

The Golf VI hasn’t even debuted yet and Volkswagen has allready announced that the Paris Motor Show will also mark the debut of the Golf VI GTI.

The new Golf GTI will be powered by the 2.0 liter four cylinder TSI engine from its ‘almost-twin’ brother, the Scirocco, which delivers 207 hp (10 hp more than the current generation). The 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint is made in 7.2 seconds, the top speed is 148 mph (238 km/h), the combined fuel consumption is 37.6 mpg, and CO2 emissions level is 178 g/km.

The exterior styling features the front red grille, new headlights with individual lamp pods, more subtle side skirts, smoked rear light lenses, new rear diffuser and a pair of chrome tailpipes, plus the distinctive GTI 18-inch wheels finished in milled silver with gloss black inserts. Of course, the interior also became more sporty.

According to VW, the GTI production will start in spring 2009 and UK sales are expected to start in early summer, with prices and specifications announced closer to this date. What I really don’t get is the purpose of this car? I mean, after releasing the Scirocco, why still keep the GTI? Only because it has a long history? They have the same engine, they look almost the same, doesn’t it mean that basically they’re the same car?

Check out more photos after the jump. (more…)

Maserati GranTurismo MC Corse Concept to debut in Paris

Recently, on their official website, Maserati suggested that they have a surprise for the Paris Motor Show. Today, they’ve unveiled the mistery, by announcing the Maserati GranTurismo MC Corse Concept, which will make its debut at next week’s French show and which basically is a race track version of the GranTurismo S.

By using a new air intake system, new racing catalytic converters, revised airflow and a new exhaust system, Maserati engineers managed to squeeze 10 more hp from the 4.7 liter V8 engine, which now delivers 450 hp. Because the power output increase is not that impressive, Maserati worked hard on the other parts of the car, like the aerodynamic kit, which includes a new front splitter, enlarged rear spoiler and road hugging rocker panels. The MC Corse also received upgraded suspension, sports enlarged brake discs with monobloc racing calipers and new 18-inch wheels, and, of course, an FIA-approved rollcage.

To be honest, I was expecting something else from Maserati, something a little more impressive, considering all the exciting stuff other carmakers announced for Paris. But, who knows, guess we’ll have to wait and see the MC Corse before saying more about it. More photos after the jump. (more…)

California bans motorists from text-messaging while driving

Photo by Jacob Belcher/Wicked Local

Yesterday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger signed a law that bans motorists from text-messaging and e-mailing while operating a vehicle. Starting January 1, drivers who will get caught writing or reading messages on their mobile phones will get a $20 ticket the first time and $50 on each subsequent offense.

Schwarzenegger said: “Building on legislation already helping save lives in California, I am happy to sign this bill because it further encourages safe and responsible driving [..] Banning electronic text-messaging while driving will keep drivers’ hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians.”

This comes after two other laws regarding the use of mobile phones while driving took effect July 1. One required drivers to use hands-free devices while talking on their phones, while the other one prohibited drivers under 18 years old from operating mobile phones.


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