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2011 Electric Ford Focus Announced

2011 EV Ford Focus

The electric Ford Focus compact will be launched at the end of 2011 and will be available in 19 major metro markets in the United States. The first areas that will get the EV Focus will be: Atlanta; Houston &  Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Los Angeles; San Francisco; San Diego; New York; Orlando; Phoenix & Tucson, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Vancouver; Seattle; and Washington.

According to Ford’s president in America, Mark Fields, “this is the first step in rolling out the Focus Electric. As the country continues to build up its electric-vehicle infrastructure and demand for the Focus Electric grows, Ford will continue to evaluate additional markets and consider making this vehicle available in more cities across the country.”

2011 EV Ford Focus

The decision to choose these 19 metro markets was based upon the current trends regarding hybrid sales, the local government commitment to electrification, but also the company collaboration.

As we have mentioned before, the Focus Electric will be available for sale starting with the fourth quarter of 2011 and will be manufactured at the Michigan plant and it will be done on the same assembly line as the normal gasoline-powered Focus.

The United States Department of Energy gave to Ford a $5.9 billion loan so that the automaker could be able to retool two truck plants in order to make more fuel-efficient vehicles as well as update other Ford facilities next year.

The 2011 EV Focus will use a 23 kW lithium ion battery instead of the conventional gasoline power unit. In order to enhance the driving range and the lifespan of the battery, the car will feature a system that will use cooling systems and liquid heating. The officials at Ford said that the electric Focus will be able to have 100 miles autonomy and no CO2 emissions.

The Focus is not the only electric vehicle Ford will launch in the near feature. The company is planning on introducing the Transit Connect Electric, a plug-in hybrid and two next-generation lithium ion battery cars.

Audi Says A7 Will Bring New Clients

2011 Audi A7

With the new A7 coupe-styled four-door car, Audi hopes that it will attract more customers. The Germans are planning to sell approximately 200,000 of the first A7 generation. The car went on sale this September in Europe and it will be available for the rest of the world next year, including the United States market in which it will be available next spring.

Peter Schwarzenbaeur, who is the sales chief over at Audi, recently stated that “We expect about two-thirds of buyers worldwide to be new customers.” He also affirmed that the new A7 model is the “next step-up from the Audi A6 segment, where we are registering high growth sales worldwide.”

A premiere for Audi is the installation of a head-up display on the A7 model that projects the automobile’s most crucial data right onto the windshield. This new car can also be equipped with various features that were previously available on the A8 limousine, like the night vision assistant in a form of a heat-image that is capable of looking up ahead up to 984 feet (300 meters). All the safety systems and features of the A8 can be implemented into the A7, like the active lane assistance for example. What this system does is when the car leaves the lane; it will intervene in the A7’s power steering and will return the car to the lane on its own.

2011 Audi A7

The A7 sports a WiFi hotspot which will allow the passengers of the car to connect up to 8 devices from an iPad to a notebook to the Internet simultaneously.

The standard price for the Audi A7 in Germany is about $71,000 (51,650 euros). This new model is a part of the program revealed by Audi to increase their lineup to 42 vehicles in the next five years, from a total of 34 cars as of 2009. A new-entry to the lineup is the Audi A1 subcompact which was launched this summer.

Audi is also planning on dethroning BMW as the world’s largest luxury car automaker by 2015 and plans on selling 1.08 million automobiles in 2010.

Japanese Automakers Aiming At The Chinese Market

2011 Mitsubishi Galant

It seems that Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are attempting to expand their sales in the China which is at this moment, the largest automotive market in the world and it seems that it will remain the same for the following years.

Mitsubishi has set up its first 50/50 joint venture in the Middle Kingdom and is expecting to double the capacity there. Honda is also planning on doubling the production at the Wuhan factory where in the near future it will start producing hybrid cars.

These attempts to conquer the Chinese market come as a direct response to General Motors and Volkswagen AG, as these companies have already a strong activity in China. The most important international automakers that hold the first places for most cars sold to the Chinese market are VW, GM, Hyundai, Toyota and Renault-Nissan.

From all of the Japanese car manufacturers, Mitsubishi is the last one that formed a 50-50 joint venture in China. The Fuji Heavy Industries, who is a manufacturer of Subaru cars, also has no production there, but its plans are to sign a partnership until the end of the year.

2011 Honda Civic Sedan

Honda is currently constructing a secondary assembly plant for the Dongfeng Honda Automobile Corporation, one of the brand’s 50/50 joint ventures. Although the initial capacity of this new assembly plant was set at 60,000 units per year, Honda recently stated that they have increased the number to 100,000 cars.

By 2013, the capacity of Honda’s factory in Wuhan will reach 120,000 units per year and in the upcoming years; it will be able to make 240,000 cars annually. The Dongfeng Honda plant has at the moment an annual capacity of 240,000 automobiles.

The Japanese newspaper Nikkei noted that the new plant will be making the Civic subcompact model and that by early 2012, Honda will start manufacturing hybrids in China. Seiji Kuraishi who is Honda’s boss in China, confirmed that the Japanese automaker will start making hybrids in China in the near future, but did not shared other details regarding this topic. The Nikkei newspaper also noted that the Fit and Civic hybrids are two of Honda’s options for the Chinese factories.

Honda’s sales in China reached 475, 695 cars this year until September, which is a 16% increase in comparison to the similar period of last year. However, only 63 hybrids were sold in the first 9 months of 2010.

Honda is hoping that by 2013, their manufacturing capacity in China will reach 890,000 units per year, including the 480,000 cars at the Ghuangzhou Honda joint venture as well as at the 50,000 units manufactured at Honda Automobile China, which is a local venture that makes cars for export.

Mitsubishi will be buying a 50% stake at the GAC Changfeng Motor Corporation where at the moment it has only 14.6% shares. GAC Changfeng Motor can make 80,000 cars per year. The models being built there are the Mitsubishi Pajero SUV and the Changfeng-badged SUVs. Within the next five years, Mitsubishi wants to start making 250,000 cars at the factory. In July 2012, the Japanese automaker will start producing a new vehicle there. Mitsubishi also owns 25% of Fujian Motor Co., a venture that has a 150,000 annual capacity which produces the Mitsubishi Lancer and Galant sedans.

Gran Turismo 5 Review

GT 5 In-Game Footage

Gran Turismo 5 is finally available for Sony’s PlayStation 3 gaming console, after 6 years of anticipation and 2 last-minute delays. Although the Need for Speed franchise is a bigger hit in terms of overall sales, GT is still considered as the best racing game that was ever developed. Polyphony Digital and CEO Kazunori Yamauchi is also a professional driver and is known for his obsession to detail, an obsession very obvious in the car details of the game.

In 2008, Polyphony Digital launched Gran Turismo 5: Prologue which was considered by many a large demo of the final game that was launched this week. The game was a hit back then as it sold more than 5,000,000 copies. Moving on to the complete game, the Arcade Mode will offer you a two-player split-screen mode, drift modes, time trails and races. The drift mode is considered to be very difficult to conquer although the game is weighty and communicative even when using a standard controller, but to feel the real simulation, it is recommended to use a force feedback wheel.

The complexity of Gran Turismo 5 can be found in the GT Mode where you start your early career with 20,000 credits and at first you have to choose a vehicle from a long list of cars (but most of them exceed the 20,000 credits limit). A second-hand car is a good way if you want to save some money and use it instead to install differing tuning parts. If you want to play with the most expensive and fastest cars the game has to offer you either wait to get more money or you go into the Arcade Mode where you can use all the cars there.

Getting back to the complex GT Mode, you will find A-Spec races, B-Spec races, Open Series, and many other types of races that will require specific car types, similar to Gran Turismo 4 and the rest of the GT franchise. An interesting addition is the License Tests section that helps you learn more about slipstreaming, cornering methods and other driving techniques which will help you become a much better driver if you have patience as it can get a little bit tricky to master. If you want more fun, the Special Events section is what you need. Here you will get a car and jump in the action as soon as possible. Besides visual graphics, the attention to detail is emphasized in the sound of the 1000+ cars. Almost each car has a specific sound which is why it is an absolute delight to drive a Lamborghini Murcielago or a Ferrari Enzo or any other supercar. Speaking of which, the sound made by the Tesla is absolutely stunning and unique, a premiere to a racing video game.

The B-Spec is an eccentric mode in which you will be able to pick an AI driver to race for you, in your own car and after that watch and attempt to issue instructions. Although not popular among Gran Turismo fans, this mode can be surprisingly interesting and rewarding especially for those players that want to play the game on a “professional” level.

GT 5 In-Game Footage

The online gameplay of Gran Turismo 5 will allow you to try out different interesting racing modes like the one that randomly selects a set of cars, the one where you can import your single-player cars and many others. On the downside, the lobby system seems a little bit rudimentary at the moment and the available race modes are somewhat limited. Hopefully, in the future with the help of a comprehensive update, the online features of GT5 will become more complex.

Although in the presentation of the game we are told that it has to offer more than 1,000 cars, only 200+ are fully modeled vehicles with interior cockpits and a high level of detail. The other 800 cars are imported from the PS2 Gran Turismo 4 and brushed up here and there. There is a huge difference between a premium car and a standard one, the premium cars have an amazing level of details while the standard models look rather dull, not worthy of the level of detail that the Playstation 3 can offer.

A new addition to the franchise is the damage mechanics but it feels a little bit simple in comparison to Forza 3 for example. Hopefully, in the future the franchise will feature a more developed level of damaging mechanics system and the standard cars will be updated to premium through DLCs. Returning to the Gran Turismo franchise is the possibility to race during the night, but it is limited to some tracks only. Speaking of which, the transition between day and night at the Nürburgring track is simply amazing. The game allows you to race also on wet and snow tracks, but also on a few tracks, not all of them.

Although it has its weak points, the game is still the best in its genre with more than 1,000 cars (WRC, Super GT and Nascar license), which is double than its most important rival – Forza Motorsport 3 Ultimate Collection. However, all the cars in Forza have cockpit views which might be important for some players; we will leave it up to you to decide which one do you like more. GT 5 has 26 different locations and 71 different track configurations, including some of the most famous tracks like Laguna Seca, Nürburgring and Top Gear’s Test Track.

Kazunori Yamauchi declared that Polyphony Digital has already started working on Gran Turismo 6 which will be most likely launched on the next generation PlayStation console. This does not mean that the support for GT5 is over, on the contrary, the game will most likely receive various updates, optimizations and DLCs to further enhance the level of the entertainment the franchise accustomed us to.

SAAB Will Be Entering The Russian & Chinese Market

SAAB 9-3X

It seems that the Swedish car manufacturer SAAB Automobile AB is planning on starting to sell cars to the expanding Chinese market some time during next year. CEO Jan Ake Jonsson declared this week that a deal is expected to be signed by the end of this year. On the sidelines of the Los Angeles Auto Show, Jonson affirmed that “Until we launch the new 9-3 at the end of 2012, it will be just a couple of thousand units (annually), all based on imports. As we lead up to this, we have to make a decision if and when we are going to introduce local manufacturing in China.”

The current issues with this upcoming decision are to decide which will be the dealer network that will sell the SAAB cars in China. Jonsson affirmed that the company must have dealerships in five or six cities with a total of 10 to 15 dealers.

Besides China, SAAB is also considering creating a distribution deal in Russia. Details were not revealed but it is expected to be announced at the end of this year.

If SAAB decides to start assembling cars in China, the first model would be the new generation 9-3 model while the upcoming 9-4X crossover and the 9-5 will be imported. SAAB’s chairman, Victor Muller recently said that “you need to get a volume of 10,000 cars (in China) before you can start manufacturing locally”.

SAAB 9-3X

The production for the United States version of the 9-4X will start next year in April, while the ones for the markets outside the North American continent will be manufactured starting with August 2011. Jonsson affirmed that the 9-4X will be offered most likely with gasoline engines as there are small chances of introducing a diesel power unit.

On local territory SAAB is planning on eliminating 200 jobs from the Swedish factory, which represents approximately 1/8 of the entire staff. Hakan Skott, who is a union representative at SAAB, told Reuters that the SAAB Company, which is now owned by Spyker Cars NV, had told the staff that it would reduce the number of employees by 200, out of 1600 jobs.

Jonsson recently affirmed that SAAB’s sales target is to surpass 85,000 units per year. Spyker estimated in October that the company would sell about 30,000 to 35,000 units next year which is significantly lower to the estimation made back in February when they announced that they are expecting sales of more than 60,000 units.

VW Is Planning On Opening New Dealerships

2011 VW Jetta

Jonathan Browning who is the CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, recently stated that the company will need to expand its dealership network in the next 4 years. These new additions will help VW to reach its goal of selling more than 800,000 cars per year in the United States by 2018. For this year, VW is right on track to sell over 250,000 units and expects that in the next five years, it will reach 450,000 – 500,000 units / year with the help of new models like a yet unknown mid-sized sedan and the 2011 VW Beetle facelift. Browning also affirmed that the extra volume can be handled by the current dealership network that has almost 600 units.

The new mid-sized sedan will be manufactured at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The model will be officially unveiled in January at the Detroit Motor Show and will be available for sale in the third quarter of 2011.

2011 VW Jetta

The current VW sales are lead by the 2011 Jetta, that went on sale this September with a $15,999 price tag, which is $1,700 less (not including shipping) than the outgoing generation. Browning said that “We are extending the price band so we can reach out for new customers. The new price point signals that VW is in reach and, with free maintenance, that ownership is cost-efficient.”

He also stated that approximately 60 % of the people that purchased the new Jetta are conquests which are exactly what Volkswagen wants for the future.

Carbon Fiber Is Becoming More Popular

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept

In the recent years, carbon fiber has become a standard material for famous supercar makers like Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren. In the present, the carbon fiber has been taken to an entire new level, creating brand new methods of reducing the molding time and getting more of the material into structural parts of the vehicles.

One of the most important promoters of the carbon fiber is Lamborghini with its Sesto Elemento concept which was unveiled in September at the Paris Auto Show. The car has a passenger compartment made out of carbon fiber and so are the suspension components, exterior panels and front/rear structures.

Lamborghini is not the only one to bring new innovations as BMW AG recently developed a carbon fiber processing method which will be used on its future Megacity Vehicle electric car.

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept

In order to further expand the technology, Lamborghini recently signed a development agreement with a golf club maker named Callawy Golf Co. Paolo Feraboli, who is the director of the structural carbon-fiber research group said that the process called “forged composite” is actually faster in comparison with the traditional hand processing and it could produce a maximum of four passenger cells per week.

The experiment conducted by Lamborghini using compression molding with a carbon fiber sheet molded compound resulted in a structural suspension part 30% lighter in comparison to a regular aluminum part and with a 3-minute cycle time, it is considerably faster than aluminum processing.

General Motors Increases Engine Production

2011 Chevrolet Cruze

General Motors is planning on investing about $163 million at the Ohio and Michigan plants for increasing the engine production for the Chevrolet Volt, the Cruze and an unknown new small-sized automobile. In a statement released this morning, GM affirmed that these investments will protect the jobs of 184 people at the factories in Flint, Michigan (engine plant); Bay City, Michigan (components plant) and Defiance, Ohio (casting plant).

The giant automaker will be increasing the production of the 1.4-liter that is used for the Chevrolet Cruze and also a variation of that same engine for the plug-in hybrid Volt. The production at start will be of about 400 engines / day at the Flint facility in the first months of the 2011 and it will increase to about 800 / day towards the end of the year. These investments will allow General Motors to increase the production to 1,200 units per day by late 2012.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

The Chevrolet Cruze is assembled in Lordstown, Ohio while the Volt in Hamtrack, Michigan. General Motors is planning on manufacturing a new small-sized vehicle at the Orion, Michigan plant, north of Detroit, USA.

Also at the Flint factory, GM is manufacturing the powerful V6 3.6-liter power unit that equips the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, Cadillac CTS / STS and the Chevrolet Traverse. These cars are assembled at the Lansing, Michigan plants.

Source: AutoNews.com

2011 Opel Antara & Corsa Facelift Launched

2011 Opel Antara

Yesterday Opel revealed the first pictures of the 2011 facelift for the Opel Antara. The exterior changes of the car are not very noticeable, the car now has a redesigned front grille and fascia plus restyled taillights. Moving inside the car, we find new higher quality materials, an electric parking brake and a new center console.

The car can now be equipped with a new generation CDTI power unit 2.2-liter that is capable of outputting 161 hp (163 PS / 120 kW). For those customers that do not enjoy diesel engines, Opel is offering the Antara with a 2.4-liter petrol power unit that offers 168 hp (170 PS / 125 kW). All of the engines are linked to an updated 6-speed gearbox that has been optimized for responsiveness and efficiency.

2011 Opel Corsa

Today Opel unveiled the 2011 facelift for the Corsa which now comes with a new grill, an updated front fascia, new headlights and a more generous “Opel” badge on the tailgate. Similar to the current generation, the 2011 Corsa will be available with various styling options. For example, the “Linea” package comes with full-length body stripes plus color-matching mirror caps and 17-inch alloy rims. The “Color Edition” will get you an exclusive paint, black 17-inch alloy rims and a black roof.

Inside the car, you will find an updated style for the dashboard, a revised trim and improved fabrics. The new infotainment system, dubbed “Touch & Connect” sports a 5” color touch screen, Bluetooth & iPod & USB connectivity and GPS navigation.

At the moment, no in depth details were given for the power unit specification of the Corsa, but we know that the ecoFLEX has an updated 1.3-liter CDTI that offers 94 hp (95 PS / 70 kW). The model comes as standard with the Start / Stop technology and the 3-door model will do 3.5 L / 100 km and 94 g/km. For the 5-door model, the Corsa consumes 3.6 L / 100 km and 95 g/km.

In the press release, Opel said that the car received “significant chassis improvements” in order to bring a “greater ride comfort with no compromises on agility.” In order to improve responsiveness and feel, the engineers at Opel recalibrated the steering system of the 2011 Corsa.

100 New Ford Dealers In China

2011 Ford Fiesta

Ford Motor Co. is pursuing its plans on expanding and will add 100 new dealerships in China which will bring the number to a total of 340. According to Joe Hinrichs who is Ford’s Asia and Africa operations president, the plan was to have 310 dealerships but the growing demand convinced the company that an additional 30 dealerships will fully satisfy the continuous growth of the Chinese market.

The company is currently targeting inland cities with the new showrooms and there zones will be replacing the big coastal regions as the most important growth driver in the world’s largest auto market. According to a statement made by Hinrichs to Reuters, “we did a pretty thorough study and looked at where our opportunities were and decided we need to be more aggressive.” He also added that in 2011, Ford will be opening more dealerships if plans go smoothly.

Due to the reason that the economy of China is continuously growing and people are becoming wealthier, the smaller cities in the west and in the north are attracting the attention of many car manufacturers that are already dominating the coastal cities. The officials at Ford affirmed that they are expecting a healthy 70 % growth for the upcoming 10 years from the African and Asia-Pacific region.

In 2009 the commercialization of automobiles in Tier 3 and 2 markets increased with 67.7 % and 56.5 %, respectively, in comparison with a Tier 1 market increase of 42.6 % – according to Xu Changming who is a senior industry researcher at the State Information Center.

2011 Ford Fiesta

A large reason for the growth of Ford’s market in China is the Fiesta subcompact that has a very low selling price, $11,700 – $16,000 (approximately 78,800 – 110,000 yuan). The Fiesta is very popular especially in the smaller cities where the drivers have the tendency to be more attentive about the money they pay for automobiles.

Ford is not the only country that is currently focusing on the Chinese market. General Motors recently launched a new brand – Baojun, a brand that will manufacture very affordable cars based on older generation General Motors cars. Their first model is the 630 Sedan, a car based on the older generation Buick Excelle – in turn inspired by the Lacetti model manufactured by Daewoo. GM with its partners, the SAIC Motor Corporation, has similar plans, planning on introducing 100 new dealerships in the first half of 2011 to sell the new 630 Sedan and other models the manufacturer will launch. Most likely, the next model will most likely be a very affordable SUV.

Nissan along with its partner – Dongfeng Motor Group, recently launched a joint venture brand exclusively for the Chinese expanding market, naming it Venucia.

Ford is the only American manufacturer that escaped bankruptcy in 2009, but its response to the Chinese market is coming rather late because Volkswagen AG and General Motors have already gained a significant lead. However, Ford is rapidly gaining ground and expanding as it already built an engine plant with its partners – Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co. in the SW part of Chongqing, China. Ford is also planning to build a new engine plant there and a 30 % owned company by the name of Jianling Motor will be expanding by constructing a new $300 million facility.

For the first 10 months of 2010, Ford along with its partners managed to sell about 470,000 cars in China which is 39 % more in comparison to the same period of last year, outperforming a 34.8 % gain of the entire Chinese market. In the same period, Toyota managed to sell 643,599 cars, 17% more cars to the similar period of 2009.

Source: AutoNews.com

Renault Wants To Cut Off Jobs In France

Renault Twingo Gordini RS

Officials at Renault SA recently stated that they are planning on an arrangement for an early-retirement in response to the reduction of the local production. Caroline De Gezelle, a spokeswoman at Renault HQ in Paris said that the company is currently holding talks under the French labor laws that permit factory employees to go for an early retirement. Caroline did not tell the press an exact number of how many people will be affected by this decision because the negotiations are not over yet.

It is estimated that 23% people will stop working at the Sandouville factory in northern France where the Espace and Laguna models are produced. The domestic production for Renault decreased because of the lower sales of larger cars that are assembled exclusively in France. Smaller cars like the Twingo and the Clio subcompact have seen an increase in production due to a stronger request in the western European market, Slovenia, Turkey and other countries with lower-wage economies where Renault has been for many years a popular car manufacturer.

People over at Renault said that there is a possibility to transfer future replacements for the Laguna and the Espace to the Douai plant, moving from the current Sandouville manufacturing unit. Two months ago in September, Renault managed to repay one third of a $4.1 billion emergency state loan received in 2009. In return, the company promised no job cuts.

In a telephone interview, Credit Suisse analyst Arndt Ellinghorst affirmed that “They got government funding to maintain capacity. Now they’re paying it back and there’s a debate on what has to be done.”

Renault Twingo Gordini RS

Currently there are 2,500 people working at the factory in Sandouville, France and it is expected that the production will drop to 53,000 units per year from an expected 69,000 units this year. Between December 17th and January 14th the factory will be shuttered due to some maintenance work as well as for the conversion of a production line, according to De Gezelle.

In the last round of Renault’s voluntary departures that ended in 2009, the French automaker eliminated 4,800 jobs from the French factories which as of December 31st totaled 55,000 workers.

Source: AutoNews.com

Ford Shaves Off $1.9 Billion Debt

2011 Ford Taurus

The Ford Motor Co. is currently attempting to regain an investment-grade credit rating and recently diminished its considerable debt by more than $1.9 billion, paying investors in its convertible debt to exchange their notes for shares. The investors converted $1.99 billion of 4.25 % senior convertible notes that are due November 15th, 2016 and $554 million of 4.25 % that are due December 15th, 2036. These considerable conversions lowered Ford’s debt in automotive operations to a total of $20.9 billion (on a pro forma basis), in comparison with approximately $20 billion in gross cash.

Lewis Booth who is the CFO at Ford recently stated that “these successful conversion offers represent another significant step toward our goal of reducing our automotive debt and improving our balance sheet.” Only in 2010, Ford shaved off $12.8 billion in debt for automotive operations, reducing the annual interest costs by approximately $1 billion. According to the officials at the company, by the end of the year, Ford will have more cash than debt.

In 2005, Ford lost its investment-grade ratings because of the gasoline prices that went sky high and also due to the reason that their truck sales plummeted, resulting a $30 billion loss for the 2006-2008 period. Ford mentioned that it would take a charge of approximately $960 million in the last quarter of the year to account for the conversion offers.

2011 Ford Fiesta

The Ford Motor Co. gave to the 2036 notes holders 108.6957 shares of common stock plus an equal payment cash of $190 for every $1,000 in principal amount, along with unpaid and accrued interest. The 2016 notes holders got from Ford 107.5269 shares plus a payment cash of $215 / $1,000 in principal amount, along with unpaid and accrued interest.

Ford was the only major United States automotive maker that successfully avoided bankruptcy in 2009 and was capable of earning $6.37 billion during the first nine months of 2010, a new record since 1998. The sales went up this year with 21% thanks to the newly introduced facelift of the Taurus and the Fiesta subcompact.

Source: AutoNews.com

Chevrolet Volt Gets 93 MPG EPA Rating

2011 Chevrolet Volt

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt is one of the most interesting plug-in hybrids launched this year and today it was an interesting day for the hybrid as it received not one but three different EPA ratings today. Running exclusively on the electric engine, the Volt is capable of doing 93 mpg, which is quite impressive, very similar to the Nissan Leaf (99 mpg) which will be available for sale in five states, starting with December.  Using only the gasoline engine, the Volt is capable of doing 37 mpg and combining both engines, the Chevy will do an equivalent of 60 mpg, according to the EPA ratings.

The General Motors Co. has been showcasing the Chevrolet Volt for four years now as a revolutionary car in terms of the technology implemented. The American compact is capable of driving on the electric engine alone and is able to offer an extra driving range thanks to the 1.4-liter conventional gasoline power unit. The Volt already won various important awards, including the one for the “Green Car Journal’s Car of the Year.”

The EPA ratings show us that the Chevy offers a 35 miles range on electricity and 379 miles autonomy, using both the electric and the gasoline engines. The officials at General Motors affirmed that the car can do 35 to 50 miles with a full battery charge. During a conference call today with the press, GM’s vehicle line executive in charge of the Volt, Doug Parks – “We have said that the range is variable on how you drive.”

According to EPA, the Chevrolet Volt belongs to the compact automobile segment, next to the Toyota Corolla, the Chevrolet Cruze and the Ford Focus. The Volt’s EPA mpg ratings are at this moment the best in its class. Due to the reason that the technology used in the Volt is not available from another manufacturer, EPA came up with another mileage label with direct input from General Motors.

Scott Miller who is the vehicle performance manager for the Chevrolet Volt said that “The label helps customers understand the uniqueness of the Volt and how it applies to their routine.” Although the Volt is the only car at the moment to feature this type of label, in the near future it is most likely that other cars with similar powertrains will have this kind of label, according to Parks.

2011 Chevrolet Volt EPA Rating

The label shows “charging routines” which approximates the cost for gasoline and electricity based upon the number of miles driven between two charges. To give a relevant example, a Volt driver living in an urban area that usually travels 30 miles between charges, would not use gasoline at all (according to the estimates made by EPA). In this situation, the automobile will consume 10.9 kW of electricity for an estimated cost of about 4c / mile. A Volt driver that uses a car for 75 miles will consume 12.9 kilowatts for the electricity and the rest for the gasoline giving a combined result of 7 cents / mile.

General Motor’s global product chief, Tom Stephens, said earlier this month that the Volt would start shipping to the dealerships as soon as possible after EPA issues a mileage label for the car. However, Park did not give any exact date about when the shipping of the Volt will actually start. The Hamtrack assembly plant in Detroit owned by General Motors has been building Volts since early November and the first cars will be sold in Michigan, California; Austin, Texas; Washington D.C. and metropolitan New York. Starting with 2010, the Volt will be available for sale in the entire United States. The base price for the Chevy will be $41,000 (including the shipping taxes and without the $7,500 federal tax credit).

Stephenes affirmed that the Chevrolet Volt is the most aerodynamic vehicle that was ever created by General Motors. Officials at the company affirmed that the automobile can travel 25 up to 50 miles running only with the battery and can offer an extra 310 miles of autonomy when the car is assisted by the 1.4-liter engine.

He also said that The Volt “does everything we said it was going to do the very first day we announced it — and more. If you recall back then how many people were saying that they don’t even have a battery, they don’t have motors or any of this, can this be real? The fact is it is real and you can drive it now.”

Stephens declared that General Motors is planning on producing about 10,000 units next year and 45,000 cars in 2012. These figures are not set in stone, because depending on the ability of the supplier to provide parts for the vehicle and the customer demand, the figures might change accordingly.

McLaren MP4-12C – Yours For 200k Euros

McLaren MP4-12C

After a couple of months of waiting, the people at McLaren have officially set a price for their MP4-12C model. If you live in Germany and want to drive this supercar, you have to say goodbye to €200,000 from your bank account. U.K. residents will have to pay £168,500. However, there is still no pricing information for the United States market.

If you don’t remember the specifications of the MP4-12C, here they are: 3.8-liter V8 engine, twin-turbocharged capable of offering 592 hp. The car features a carbon-fiber body and will be available in 14 different trim variations for the indoor with several performance upgrades. In the first year of production, McLaren is planning to sell only 1,000 units of which all will be tuned at the new facility which should be fully functional starting with June next year.

McLaren MP4-12C

To sum up what the people at McLaren nicely wrote in their official press release, here are the most important facts about their new car:

-          One-piece carbon chassis (the carbon MonoCell) that reduces weight, improves safety and performance;

-          The car was conceived, designed and developed within a real Formula 1 manufacturing unit;

-          The 3.8 600 PS engine produces less than 300g/km CO2 emissions;

-          14 interior trims and 17 high-grade exterior paint finishes will be available for the MP4-12C;

-          Clients can get performance upgrades like carbon ceramic brake discs, two lightweight forged wheel options and polished-finish calipers;

-          The car will be available in 19 countries worldwide;

-          The standard model comes with just one piece of carbon – the MonoCell – but owners of the car can get for additional money, other carbon fiber options for the engine cover, engine bay panels and mirror casings;

-          A £40 million manufacturing unit is under construction at the moment and will be fully operational by the middle of next year and in the future McLaren is planning on building 4,000 cars per year in comparison to the first year of production in which they will create only 1000 cars.

Source: McLaren

In Depth – 2011 Volkswagen Jetta

2011 Volkswagen Jetta

The Volkswagen Jetta is known for being a car created to be very affordable to the most of us but at the same time to maintain a high level of quality. All the generations look pretty good in our opinion with nice clean interiors and pretty decent materials. It goes without showing that if they really put their mind into in, car manufacturers can get a nice profit by building cheap yet very reliable and attractive cars.

For the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, it seems that the engineers took the cost-controlling methods to an entire new level. The 2010 model was priced at $17,735 for the standard model. The car was very successful in terms of sales so people at VW thought about using the same recipe and improving it a little bit if possible. Did they succeed? We will let you decide did. Going back on the price issue, the 2011 Jetta is considerably cheaper than the outgoing generation, having a starting price of $15,995, which is almost $2,000 less. During its first month of sales, the new Jetta did pretty good; sales grew by 12.6% in comparison to the similar period of the year before.

How did they manage shave off a $2,000 price tag? Some features were removed but the car still has its strong points, we’ll discuss about them later. The 2.5 SEL shows us that VW had only one thing in its mind which is keeping it as cheap as possible, but even in this situation the Jetta looks very good with a conservative yet not boring appearance, very German-ish. The new generation is now 3 inch longer, a feature that Americans really enjoy about most cars. For those of you that want big rims, the Jetta can ride on 18-inch models, which is a very big step forward for a reasonably priced car.

If you do not know many things about cars and look at the 2011 Jetta for the first time, you will not say that it costs only $16k, but this is what made the Jetta what it is today, a very good and attractive price for the budget-minded driver. Moving inside, the dashboard looks cleanly styled, following the classic Volkswagen line that we are all very accustomed to. For such a cheap car you would expect that the plastic and metal insertions to look just as cheap, but this isn’t the case as everything is very well built, similar to a more expensive car. The 2011 VW Jetta is one of the most spacious cars money can buy for that price range and it looks definitely way better when put side by side with the Nissan Versa. A more fair battle would be with the newly introduced Ford Fusion and the Hyundai Sonata which are quite hard competitors that are able to bring a lot of features for the money. Jetta’s class competitor is in fact the Mazda 3 but the Japanese is offered at a basic price of almost $25,000.

Although the interior of the Jetta looks good in our opinion, comparing it to the Chevrolet Cruze or the Ford Fiesa it looks less exciting, but it still offers a more generous cargo space and more room in the back. The most expensive Jetta money can buy at the moment is the SEL trim that has a $24,095 price tag – for this money you get a lot of features that no other competitor can offer.

We mentioned that the back seat of the car offers more space; this was possible because of the longer wheelbase. The perforated V-Tex upholstery offers the interior a very nice and clean look, imitating a finer quality material like leather. For those of you that do not like the standard seats, for extra money the Jetta can be fitted with sport seats. To get them you have to pay an additional $1,600 and you will also get a sport suspension, door still trim and gussied up pedals as part of the Jetta Sport Package.

As far as the ergonomics are concerned, the VW intuitive style was maintained to the Jetta with three generous knobs for the climate control system and other auxiliary controls that have a very well-thought placement. The Jetta’s interior layout is very simple to use, a lesson that other car manufacturers still need to learn.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta

The car can be fitted with a 177 hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder that offers 170 pound-feet of torque and is way better in comparison to the engine that powered the previous generation, which was an ancient 2.0-liter that offered only 115 hp. In the future, the Jetta will be equipped with a 2.0-liter TSI engine and an updated suspension which includes replacing the rear beam with an independent arrangement.

The 2.5 engine is linked to a 6-speed automatic gearbox that allows the Jetta to do 23 mpg city / 30 mpg highway. The braking performance of the Jetta is pretty good, nothing wrong to say about that except the fact the standard model comes with rear drums in comparison to the SEL trim that offers four-wheel discs which are more efficient. The electronic stability control is offered standard with the Jetta and so are front, side and side-curtain airbags. The car also features an Intelligent Response System which will cut off the fuel supply, unlock all doors and will turn the hazard flashers in case of an unfortunate accident.

In conclusion, the new generation of the Jetta is looks nice and is unbeatable in its price range. The car has a very good engine, efficient brakes and although it was designed to keep production costs to a minimum, it does not feel like a cheap car, on the contrary it looks and feels way better in comparison to other, more expensive cars. The 2011 Jetta benefits from Carefree Maintenance and the car has 3 years or 36,000 miles of scheduled maintenance without any other costs.

Source: AutoBlog.com

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