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Mercedes Benz announces US pricings for new models

Mercedes-Benz USA has announced the pricing for its new models which will debut in the States, including the 2011 CL550 4Matic, the 2011 CL63 AMG Coupe and S63 AMG Sedan. So let’s see what’s new and how much it costs.

The restyled 2011 CL550 4MATIC is available with the new 4.6-liter V8 engine that delivers 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque and is available starting with $114,025. The CL will arrive in the United States in November and it will feature bi-xenon headlights with LED turn signals, LED taillights, new steering wheel design, Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Assist.

Another new engine is the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter AMG V8 engine, available for the 2011 CL63 AMG Coupe and the S63 AMG Sedan, that delivers 536 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a 7-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT transmission and pricing for the two cars is $151,125 (CL63) and $138,875 (S63). Customers wanting even more power will also be able to order the AMG Performance Package which increases the power output to 563 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque.

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Mercedes-Benz considers building the C Class in US to prevent low profit


As the recession takes a heavy toll on exchange rates all around the world, this leaves a big hole for carmakers that ship their models to and from different continents. In order to jumpstart the declining profit rates that its C Class is “enjoying” in the United States, Mercedes-Benz will decide, by January reportedly, if it will begin building it in the USA.

If the decision goes through, the Vance, Alabama plant, which currently handles models like M, GL and R Class will be outfitted with the tools to produce around 80,000 C Class models every year, plenty to fuel the needs of the US public.

While nothing is official just yet, it might prove to be a worthy investment, protecting the C Class from the weak dollar and bad exchange rates.

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Chrysler to produce 100,000 Fiat 500 in Mexico for American market


We all know Italian automaker Fiat and North American corporation Chrysler are now partners, but up until now we’ve only been hearing about the aid that the Italians are supplying to the Americans in order to escape the tough financial situation and how Fiat will revamp the whole lineup of Chrysler in order to rival companies like Cadillac.

But it seems that Chrysler will be pulling its own weight, as reports indicate that the Fiat 500 city car will be built at the Mexico plant of the US carmaker. It seems that the two companies already have plans to build over 100,000 models, destined to hit Canada, the United States and South America. The plant will go on to operate at a capacity ranging from 104,000 to 120,000 models per year, depending on the demand that the companies will experience.

It is still unknown at what price will the Fiat 500 enter the market, but it’s a safe bet that it will be cheaper than the Mini to make a dent in its popularity, or whether or not it will be sold through Chrysler’s dealer network.

Are you looking forward to the Fiat 500 reaching American shores? Don’t be shy and drop a comment below.

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Mitsubishi recalls nearly 7,000 Lancer models from 2008 and 2009 over fuel pipe crack concerns


After talking earlier today about the fact that recalls will be made mandatory in the European Union, Mitsubishi and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) from the United States have announced that they are calling back into service 6,903 Lancer models.

The recall, which applies to any of the vehicles made during 2008 and 2009, including versions like Evolution, Ralliart, and Sportback Ralliart, besides the normal one, is due to an improperly attached fuel pipe, which, after running the engine at certain speeds and causing vibrations, will make it crack, spilling the fuel onto the hot motor, thus generating a big fire.

Mitsubishi dealers are now instructed to call back the models they have sold and replace the fuel pipe, while adding two new brackets in order to make sure that any vibrations from the motor won’t lead to any new cracks in it. All of the process will be completely free of charge, so Lancer owners can rest safe. You can contact the manufacturer at 1-888-648-7820, or you can contact the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236.

Hopefully this dangerous problem will be fixed and everyone driving a Lancer in the United States can rest safely once more and enjoy their Japanese car.

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First details on the 2010 Acura ZDX released

Acura has just released the first details on the new 2010 Acura ZDX four-door sports coupe, the car which everyone thought of as the first real competitor for the BMW X6, before its debut at this year’s New York Auto Show in April. However, after we saw the car, we really had doubts that the ZDX will ever be able to compete the incredible car the Germans have built. But that doesn’t mean the ZDX doesn’t have its chances when it will be launched on the North American market this winter.

The first thing one notices about the ZDX is its bold styling with a few design highlights such as the panoramic glass roof, the hidden door handles or the bold fender flares. The interior continues in the same note, with hand-stitched leather dash, panels and sculpted center console. And speaking of the interior, Acura claims the ZDX will offer plenty of cargo space (including an integrated under-floor storage area at the back) which can be increased by removing side panes in the cargo-compartment sidewalls.

As for the drivetrain, the Acura ZDX will be available with a 3.7-liter V6 petrol engine that delivers 300 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque and which will be mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The ZDX will also come with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. If you’d like to read more details about the new ZDX, check out the official press release.

Photo Gallery: 2010 Acura ZDX

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$2,300 Tata Nano headed for the United States in 2 years

Ratan Tata, Tata Motor’s boss, has very ambitious plans for the Nano, the $2,000 car which was officially introduced this March, but created a lot of buzz ever since the first details about the project were announced. According to Mr. Tata, we might see the Nano in the United States within two years, priced at $2,300. “It will need to meet all emission and crash standards and so we hope in the next two years we will be offering such a vehicle in the U.S,” Ratan Tata told a panel at the Cornell Global Forum on Sustainable Global Enterprise late Wednesday. There’s also an European version of the Nano, which is scheduled to debut on the ‘old continent’ in 2011.

So, will the $2,300 price tag and the 65 mpg fuel consumption be enough to bring the Tata Nano success in more developed markets than India, for example? It’s hard to say now, not to mention in two years, because a lot can happen until then. And even though I’m a fan of the Indian project, I’m a little skeptical about it making it on markets like the United States or Europe, but who knows we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Magna won’t be able to sell cars in the U.S. and China

Frank Stronach, Magna International’s chairman, recently told reporters present at a news conference in Ottawa that the agreement they signed with GM prevents Opel’s new owner from selling vehicles in the United States. When reporters asked, he said that applies to China too, he said yes but added that the situation in China might change in the upcoming years. “Yes, for the moment, but keep in mind that General Motors — we’ve been working together for 50 years, we’ve been great partners, and they still own 35 percent (of Opel).”

Stronach added that he expects Opel to break even in three years, and to turn a profit in four, also announcing that Magna won’t probably buy Saturn and Saab too (GM looking to sell these two brands too). “We have to digest Opel now, and we have got a mouthful, so we’ll see how quickly that will take place,” he said.

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Volkswagen Scirocco not coming to the United States

US car fans have long been waiting for an official announcement about whether Volkswagen will sell the Scirocco in the US or not. Not to mention that last year we published a few photos with the Scirocco in Arizona, so everyone was really excited about US getting the car. However, now the wait is over, but we’ve got some bad news. Tom Wegehaupt, Volkswagen’ of America’s public relations coordinator, recently told Autoblog that a decision has been made and the German carmaker decided not to bring the hatchback in the States. Apparently, VW took this decision due to the enhealthy current US economy and because they’re already planning a hot hatch for America, the Golf GTI.

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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.

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Volkswagen Touareg “Lux Limited” edition for the US

At the Detroit Motor Show, Volkswagen presented the Touareg Lux Limited, a special edition aimed at the US market. Under the hood, customers will be able to choose from VW’s recently introduced 225 hp (165 kW) V6 TDI Clean Diesel, a 280 hp (106 kW) V6 FSI and a 350 hp (257 kW) V8 FSI.

As you’d expect in a special edition, the car boasts a set of exclusive features, such as 20-inch alloy wheels, styling package with special side skirts and customized front and rear aprons and customized color lineup (Biscay Blue, Black magic pearl effect, Campanella white and Galapagos gray). The interio was also modified, faeturing two-tone leather combined with special interior accents, door panel inserts trimmed in “St. Tropez white” and 12-way power seats for the driver and the front passenger.

More photos of the Volkswagen Touareg Lux Limited after the jump. (more…)

US Army goes green and adds electric cars to its fleet

The US Army has decided to start replacing its fleet of conventional cars, by buying thousands of battery-powered, 35 mph electric cars and light trucks to provide on-base transport. The plans were unveiled last month and Army officials already announced that 800 cars will be delivered next year, with 4,000 over the next three years, with the overall target set at around 10,000 vehicles eventually. The vehicles will be street-legal NEVs (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) from E-Z-Go, Native American Biofuels International and other electric-car makers and the fact that these are only capable of doing 35 mph is no object to the Army, because the vehicles will be used only for on-base transportation, and the speed limit on US Army installation is 30 mph.

“The Neighborhood Electric Vehicle [NEV] will be at Fort Belvoir, before Dec. 15. Our goal is to have the secretary there to drive in one of the first ones,” said Paul Bollinger, deputy assistant Army secretary for energy and partnerships. “We are having bumper stickers put on and decals on the doors which say ‘Army Green, Army Strong.’ ” Of course, they’re making a lot of fuss around the ‘green’ part of this decision, but the most important reason is the costs cut, electric cars requiring only $400 per year to operate, while a conventionl gasoline car requires around $2,400.

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2010 Nissan Cube unveiled

Nissan has announced the 2010 Nissan Cube, the third generation of their weird looking car launched in 1998. “The new Cube is designed for people who imagine a life less ordinary, who have grown tired of the never-ending pursuit of faster, more powerful, more outrageously styled cars,” said Yosuke Iwasa, Segment Chief Product Specialist. “The quieter, more harmonious qualities of the Cube have attracted interest not only among young people, but for those in every walk of life. While carrying forward the concept of the original Cube, this latest edition has advanced significantly, including offering far greater comfort.”

As you can probably imagine, power and aerodynamics are not these car’s main attractions, the Cube being offered with a 1.5-liter HR15DE engine, e-4WD system featuring standard XTRONIC CVT with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) which Nissan claims offers an improved fuel economy. The interior however, is very versatile and funky, with an open cabin, conceived with the image of a Jacuzzi, curve-shaped instrument panel, “Fine Vision” instrumentation, “skylight”-style glass panel roof with shoji-style shade to diffuse sunlight and “water drop” ripple design motif in cupholders and other cabin details.

The new Nissan Cube will go on sale in Japan on November 26 (prices ranging between $15,000 and $20,000), in the spring of 2009 the United States will get it, while European customers will be able to place their orders starting with fall 2009. Check out more photo after the jump. (more…)

Gas prices go down, SUV sales start to recover

The SUV sales took a major slump in the United States this year, due to the rising fuel prices and the worsening economic situation. However, with recent oil prices going down, the gas price also started getting lower. In May and June, when the average gas price was $4.11 per gallon, truck sales fell below 10% of overall vehicle sales. In September, when the price fell to $2.78 per gallon, 14.1% vehicles sold were trucks. During such fragile financial times, I think it’s a stupid thing to go buy an SUV only because gas prices are lower. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?

But if people are reckless, carmakers are not. Because all the companies that announced the drop of some of their SUV, like GM, said they’ll stick to their current plans, where small cars and hybrids are their top priorities. Yvonne Malmgren, manager of global sales and incentive communications for Chrysler LLC told Automotive News that “as a company, we are looking at a future of high gasoline prices [..] That is what we expect, and we’re aligning our business plans with that idea in mind.”

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Alfa Romeo’s U.S. return delayed until 2011

Fiat’s CEO Sergio Marchionne has announced that Alfa Romeo’s return to the United States has been delayed again, this time until 2011. We lost track how many times Alfa Romeo has delayed its comeback to the US, first time it was 2007, then 2008, then late 2009, then 2010 and now 2011. We wonder if they’ll ever make it across the ocean. Of course, we don’t have to tell you the reason for this delay, the global financial crisis, with the United States being hit very hard by it. According to Automotive News, Mr. Marchionne said that “it would be simply crazy investing for returning Alfa in such a depressed U.S. market.” And we have to agree with him.

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Final Mercedes McLaren SLR Roadster to be auctioned in the US

We already know that the Mercedes McLaren SLR’s production is coming to an end and it seems that the United States will finally get one. Only one. The special final SLR will be sold in an exclusive online auction on November 20. Beside the 617 hp supercharged V8, the car also features an unique Sienna Pearl Super Metallic Paint finish with metallic elements, Tobacco Brown composition leather interior and 19 inch SLR wheels with special brake system fitted with gold brake calipers. The car’s price is $529,500 and all funds will go to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. For more details, check out the Mercedes Benz USA website.

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