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Rick Wagoner leaves GM with $20.2 million retirement package

On Sunday, at the White House’s request, Rick Wagoner announced his decision to step down from his position as GM’s chief executive. If you feel or felt sorry for him, don’t be! Because, according to GM’s financial filings, Wagoner is entitled to a $20.2 million retirement package. That’s a lot of money and I’m sure everyone would be happy to get fired under these circumstances. According to ABC News, althought the Treasury Department halted all payments to GM’s senior executives, Wagoner’s retirement package is legal and can’t be stopped.

“I think it’s another perfect example of why there’s so much frustration among working people,” said Tiffany Ten Eyck of Labor Notes, a Detroit-based independent publication covering unions. “I wouldn’t mind retiring out of an industry in crisis with a $20 million package.”

However, there’s one thing that could cause Wagoner to lose a huge amount of that money and that’s if GM files for bankruptcy. Accrding to Dave Schimdt, executive compensation analyst with James F. Reda and Associates, only less than $1 million of the total $20.2 million is guaranteed in case GM goes into bankruptcy. However, Julie M. Gibson, spokeswoman for GM, said that Wagoner’s compensation is still being reviewed and he might have to negotiate with the company’s board to access the money.


Acura ZDX luxury four-door sport coupe teased before New York debut

Honda has released a few teaser photos of the upcoming Acura ZDX luxury four-door sport coupe which will make its debut on Aprol 8 at the New York International Auto Show. Though there aren’t many details available, it looks like the ZDX, which will hit showrooms this fall, will be a BMW X6 competitor, which will be pretty interesting, because it’ll be the German SAV’s first rival.

“The ZDX prototype is unlike anything you have ever seen before from Acura,” said Jeff Conrad, vice president, Acura sales. “The prototype showcases a new level of luxury, style and refinement for Acura and speaks volumes towards our commitment to advancing the brand.”

Photo Gallery: Acura ZDX Teaser Photos


Tiret Coupe based on the Range Rover Sport Coupe by LSE Design

Remember the Range Rover Sport Coupe by LSE Design? It’s one of the most beautiful cars we’ve seen and we remember falling in love with that the second we saw it. Well, now we’ve got something even more interesting. Created by New York based jewelry designers Tiret and LSE Design, the Tiret Coupe features new exterior body styling with flared wheel arches, twin chromed LSE tailpipes, LED daytime running lights, 22 inch LSE alloy wheels and a full glass panoramic sunroof. The interior is very luxurious, with Tiret diamond dials, unique ‘Tiret clock’ Nappa leather seats and fine wood inserts. According to its makers, the Tiret Coupe comes with a three year warranty, while service and warranty can be carried out at every Land Rover dealer. Wondering if that warrany also covers the diamonds?

So, what do you think about the car? Do you like or do you think it’s too much? We think it’s simply awesome!

Photo Gallery: Range Rover Sport based Tiret Coupe


Kia VG Concept (KND-5) photo released

This weekend, at the Seoul Motor Show, Kia will unveil their latest vehicle, the KND-5 Concept, which previews the Korean company’s upcoming luxury sedan, so far only known with the codename “VG”. The car will be a direct competitor to near-luxury sedans such as the VW Passat CC and will share its FWD platform with the next generation Hyundai Azera (will debut in Korea in September). According to Kia World, the concept will measure 4945 mm in length, 1850 mm in width and 1475 mm in height, with a wheelbase of 2845 mm. Other than that, the KND-5 concept features headlamps and taillights with LED technology, 20 inch wheels and a huge panoramic glass roof. More details about this concept soon, after its official unveiling on April 3.


Rick Wagoner steps down as GM’s chief executive, Fritz Henderson takes his place

Yesterday, GM’s chief executive Rick Wagoner has announced that he will resign his position at the company, at the White House’s request. But that’s not all, because the Obama administration has also announced that GM and Chrysler won’t be getting any more bailout money and told them to come up with new plans or risk insolvency.

Wagoner, which has been GM’s top executive since 2000, said: “On Friday I was in Washington for a meeting with Administration officials. In the course of that meeting, they requested that I ‘step aside’ as CEO of GM, and so I have.” His position will be taken by Fritz Henderson, 50, which has been with GM since 1984, and held the positions of head of GM Europe and then the company’s chief financial officer until today. And that’s not the only change at the top, because it looks like a lot more executive are scheduled to be replaced from their positions in the future.

According to Financial Times, this decision most likely means that GM would file for bankruptcy protection sometime in the next few weeks. And that’s not all, because, as we said before, the White House refused to give more money to GM, who already received $13.4 billion in government aid. And because the company failed to meet targets on cutting debt and reducing the cost of benefits paid to workers, today it was given 60 days to reach agreement with debtholders and unions, with new tougher targets for cost cutting, or they would lose their last chance for a government bailout, almost certainly sending them into bankruptcy.


The new Mercedes Benz E Class by Brabus

This weekend we took the new Mercedes Benz E Class for a test drive and now we’re really happy to see that there’s already a Brabus edition ready. The German tuner has always been known for its top of the line programs for Mercedes cars and the package for the new E is another proof of that. The first that strikes you is the new body kit, manufactured from Pur-R-Rim plastics and which features new Brabus front apron with integrated LED daytime running lights and auxiliary headlights (high beams or fog lamps), Brabus aluminum front sport quarter panels, integrated lateral carbon fiber air outlets, Brabus rocker panels with integrated LED entrance lights, new rear spoiler and air diffuser with chrome-plated tailpipes. The package is completed by a set of Brabus Monoblock light-alloy wheels, available in various designs with size ranging from 17 to 20 inches.

Under the hood, Brabus installed special crankshaft and larger pistons which increased the engine’s displacement up to 6.1 liters, which means it now delivers 462 hp (388 on the production version) and 6,200 rpm and max torque of 615 Nm at 3,100 rpm. This means that the car sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds and is able to reach a top speed of 305 km/h (191 mph). Brabus has also announced that they’re currently working on ECO PowerXtra performance kits for the CDI BlueEfficiency turbodiesel engines and an ECO PowerXtra BLUE kit for the E350 BlueTec.

The interior is also filled with exclusive elements, such as stainless-steel scuff plates with illuminated Brabus logo, ergonomically shpaped sport steering wheel, Brabus fully leather interior made from a combination of Brabus Mastik and Alcantara leathers or custom tailored seatback consoles for the front seats, with integrated 7-inch LCD displays and DVD player.

Photo Gallery: New Mercedes Benz E Class tuning by Brabus


Having fun with the new Mercedes Benz E Class

Hey guys, no new posts for today because this morning we got invited by Mercedes to the official launch of the new Mercedes Benz E Class in Romania. This will be a 2 day event and we’ll drive around 300 miles in their new car. So far it has been really fun and we’ll come back later with a full review of the car. Meanwhile here are some photos we managed to take today.

Photo Gallery: 2010 Mercedes Benz E Class Test Drive

New Mercedes Benz E Class Test Drive


Tesla Model S officially unveiled

Today, at Tesla’s design studion in SpaceX Rocket Factory in Hawthorne, California, the company unveiled its second vehicle, the new Tesla Model S electric sedan. With the Fisker Karma only a few month away, Tesla really needed to hurry showing this project, which is scheduled to debut in 2011. According to the company, the Model S has a driving range of 300 miles while the battery charge takes only 45 minutes (110V, 220V or 440V outlets). Priced at $49,900, the Model S is able to carry five adults and two children so it is quite practical, not to mention the fact that a full recharge costs only $4, as Tesla says, “a bargain even if gasoline dropped to $1 per gallon”.

The car’s powertran a liquid-cooled 9-inch motor, floor-mounted battery pack and a single-speed gearbox. With these, Tesla says the Model S accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 120 mph.

As for the design and the interior, we must admit Tesla did an amazing job. While the Tesla Roadster doesn’t impress us from this point of view, the Model S really does. Designed by Franz von Holzhausen, the electric sedan features panoramic roof with sliding moon roof, retracting door handles for improved aerodynamics, LED and neon headligh and tail-lights, 21-inch wheels and Brembo brake system with new one-piece monobloc calipers, while the interior features 17-inch haptic touchscreen, fully digital instrument cluster and full-time 3G connectivity with Internet, HD and sattelite radio.

So, what do you think about the car? Which one do you think will win this segment, the Model S or the Fisker Karma?

Photo Gallery: Tesla Model S


Paul Walker doing a great job on the track

I’m sure every petrolhead knows Paul Walker, the actor from the Fast and Furious series. And, just like me, you’re probably thinking that it’s just a movie and that he has nothing to do with cars. However, here’s a video showing Paul driving several beauties on the Willow Springs race track (among others there’s a 2010 Mustang, a Nissan GT-R and a Porsche 911 GT3) and he’s actually doing a pretty good job. However, I think it’s funny that the song you hear in the background is “Teriyaki Boyz – Tokyo Drift”, from the soundtrack of Fast and Furious 3, the only movie of the series without Paul.

Fast and Furious 5?

And remember, you can see Paul Walker along with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez in the latest installment of the series, Fast and Furious 4 (check out the trailer here) which will hit cinemas next weekend, on April 3.


Cayenne GTS Porsche Design Edition 3 unleashed

After the Cayman S Porsche Design Edition 1 and the Boxster S Porsche Design Edition 2, Porsche has announced today a new Porsche Design limited edition for the Cayenne GTS. With 1,000 units to be built, the Cayenne GTS Porsche Design Edition 3 features an extended roof spoiler, Lava Grey Metallic paint finish with two black stripes, 21-inch SportPlus black wheels, bi-xenon headlights and a special “Cayenne GTS” logo at the rear with a red “S”.

Under the hood, there’s a 4.8 liter V8 powerplant which develops 405 hp and 500 Nm of torque mated to a six-speed Tiptronic S which takes the Cayenne from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.5 seconds and up to a top speed of 251 km/h (156 mph).

For the interior, the special GTS has an exclusive black upholestry with red instrument panel and door sills, padded three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, front headrests with the Porsche logo embossed and slip-proof Alcantara for the center seat sections, parts of the center console and door linings. The sound experience is guaranteed by the 410W Bose 5.1 Surround Sound System with 14 loudspeakers. The car also comes with a set of Porsche Design accessories including a chronograph watch and a four-piece luggage set bearing the ‘Porsche Design Edition 3′ label.

Photo Gallery: Cayenne GTS Porsche Design Edition 3


Smart buyers back out leaving the cars ‘orphaned’ in US dealerships

Aren’t people always acting like a herd? Last year, when gas price were up through the roof, Smart dealerships registered a very high demand for the small German car. Now, when gas price are back to a more normal level, everyone is dumping their new Smart. According to an article from USA Today, Smart dealers are facing with increasing unsold car lots, caused by customers who placed their orders and then backed out. And the $99 required deposit (which is also refundable) is making this decision really easy to take. Smart confirmed but said they’re not worried about this situation yet “”Are a few more people canceling (compared to) last year? Yes. But certainly we’re not seeing a huge falloff” said Smart spokesman Ken Kettenbeil.

According to Smart, the company has around 30,000 prospective buyers who paid the $99 reservation fee but have not taken delivery and from these, about 35% back out (about 30% in November). However, we think Smart should worry, because Autodata reports that in February Smart sold 1,415 units, almost half of how much it was selling last year.


Kia Forte LPI Hybrid debuts in South Korea

Following recent announcements that in the future they will focus on eco-friendly cars, yesterday Kia introduced the Kia Forte LPI Hybrid in South Korea. With this occasion, Kia has also announced their new eco-friendly sub-brand Eco-Dynamics.

The Kia Forte LPI hybrid is powered by hybrid powertrain consisting of a 114 hp 1.6 liters LPI (Liquefied Petroleum Injected) engine and a 20 hp electric motor. Kia claims their new hybrid achieves a fuel economy of 17.2 kilometers per liter of LPG fuel (41 MPG US), the equivalent to 21.5 kilometers per liter of gasoline. The electric motor is powered by highly advanced lithium polymer (Li–poly) battery, a new lighter and smaller battery with higher output than nickel-metal hydride batteries. The same batteries will power the upcoming Chevrolet Volt and will be supplied by LG Chem.

Photo Gallery: Kia Forte LPI Hybrid


Fisker appoints 32 US retailers to sell the Karma sedan

In a press release made public today, Fisker Automotive has announced the first group of US retailers to market and service the Fisker Karma luxury plug-in hybrid sedan. This is the first step from Fisker’s plan to have, by the end of June 2009, 40 location across the country to sell the sedan that will go on sale later this year with a starting price tag of $87,900.

It looks like the California based company is doing a pretty good job in developing their retail network and a large influence in this has Fisker’s Board member Vic Doolan, the man who led BMW NA and Volvo NA in the 90s and the 2000s with great results for the two companies. Check out the dealers list after the jump.


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