Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart
We have some bad news coming from Mitsubishi as the Japanese automaker announced this week that they will be closing their only European assembly plant. This decision has been taken after a very slow last year in terms of sales in Europe where the company managed to sell only 218,000 units which is considerably less then what they did in 2007 when they sold 340,000 cars.
This decision means that the NedCar factory located in Netherlands will be closing down its facilities. The assembly plant was constructed back in 1991 as a joint venture between Mitsubishi, Volvo and the local government. This was the place where cars like the Mitsubishi Carisma, the Volvo S40/V40 and the Mitsubishi Space Star were built.
In March 2001, Mitsubishi became the sole owner of the plant and nowadays it is the place where they make the Outlander SUV and the Colt supermini. In the last month of 2010 Mitsubishi decided that the Colt production will stop at the end of 2012.
Last year at the NedCar factory where 1,500 people work, Mitsubishi rolled out only 50,000 units which is only 1/4 of the factory’s annual capacity of 200,000 cars.
Source: Mitsubishi via Carscoop
One of the car makers that were greatly affected by the terrible tsunami that hit Japan back in March was Toyota. Lots of its suppliers had a very hard time dealing with the natural disaster and couldn’t provide the Japanese automaker with the necessary components. As a consequence, the production numbers diminished considerably and sales also went down.
Since then, things have taken a turn for the better as Toyota Motor Company announced earlier this week that its August production saw an increase which is the first time in the last 12 months. The company’s production rose by 11.9% to 252,374 cars and if we take into consideration the ones rolled out under the Daihatsu and Hino names, the increase in production is of 12% (311,153 units).
Last month the company’s global production increased by 11% to 702,603 cars. Despite the fact that the local sales plummeted by 18.4% in August, the exports made up for it increasing by the same 18.4%. The Japanese automaker mentioned that they plan to reach full production in next month and until March next year they plan on rolling an additional 350,000 units in order to make up for what they’ve lost in the first part of this year.
Regardless of which brand you like, it’s always good news to hear that a certain automaker is back on track with its production level.
Source: Toyota via Carscoop
2011 VW Tiguan
Good news for all you people who leave in Germany. At the moment the average car buyer there has to wait about 3.6 months to get behind his brand new car, lower from the previous 3.8 months. According to a study conducted by the CAR Institute of the University of Duisburg-Essen, the waiting times have started to fall and this can only be a good thing if we look for how long a buyer has to wait for a VW, BMW, Audi or other car.
Let’s take for example Volkswagen where at the moment the waiting time is 5.2 months while those who order an Audi will have to wait 4.9 months. Don’t think that this situation is applicable only to the domestic brands as even for import cars the waiting time is just about the same. For a Hyundai it takes 5.3 months while for a Kia you’ll have to wait 4.9 months.
The situation is even worse when ordering an SUV as the average waiting time is 5.4 months. If you live in Germany and you order a Volkswagen Tiguan, you will have to wait about 7.1 months, while for an Audi Q5 it takes an agonizing 7 months. If you order today a BMW X3, in about 6.5 months you’ll see it parked in front of your home. The record belongs to the Hyundai ix35 for which you’ll have to wait 10 months.
One of the reasons for these long waiting times would have to be that a lot of the cars which are sold in Germany as well as other European markets are built-to-order. The advantage here is that you get exactly what you order. However, you’ll end up pay a little bit more and as you can see, you need to be very patient until you get the car.
2011 Chevrolet Equinox
General Motors filed for bankruptcy two years ago and now they are back on top, regaining the first spot as the largest car manufacturer in the world. They managed to sell 4.53 million cars in the first six months of this year, while in second place came Volkswagen AG with 4.13 million and in third Toyota with only 3.71 million units sold so far.
Compared to 2010, the Japanese automaker’s sales plummeted by a whopping 23% and according to experts in the domain, the main reasons for this decline is due to the natural calamities that struck Japan back in March this year.
General Motors proudly posted a 2nd quarter net income of $2.5 billion on revenues of $39.4 billion.
According to the Chinese media, an electric bus caught fire in Shanghai this Monday and it appears that unfortunately this isn’t the first incident of this type. A report revealed by Reuters indicates that at least one earlier incident has been reported in the last three months. We don’t know if the bus you see in this photo was stationary, in service or parked by the roadside but what we do know (and what really matters) is that nobody got hurt after this incident.
The bus that caught fire was a part of a test fleet that uses ultra-capacitors in order to store energy from a network of charging points. These buses are almost entirely different from the regular EVs sold in the United States, including here the Volt and the Leaf, which store the energy in lithium-ion batteries that as you already know, charge at very slower rates. These cars do not use ultra-capacitors so these cannot store a lot of energy but can provide a high level of power very fast.
If we do a little bit of math, these ultra-capacitors may recharge at 182 kilowatts which is a lot faster than any EV on sale today. At a 65% efficiency rate, 60 kW (or more) of heat may be shed during the recharging process, which is a lot if you think about it.
EVs charge either at 3.3 or 6.6 kW on dedicated 240V Level 2 charging stations or a maximum of 50 kW on the Level 3 DC Quick-Charge stations.
We have extremely good news coming from the UK Department of Transport. It seems that the number of people who were killed last year in road accidents dropped by 16% from 2222 casualties to 1857, which is the lowest rate ever recorded since 1926.
There were 842 less casualties last year, which is 20% lower than in 2009. As far as motorcyclists are concerned, 403 people died last year, 15% less than in 2009 while the number of pedestrians that perished was 405, 19% less than in 2009.
The bad news is that the number of casualties among cyclists went up by 7% to 111 people, despite the fact that the cyclist traffic went up by only 0.5%.
Overall, a total of 208,655 people were considered to be casualties in road accidents last year in United Kingdom.
2011 SAAB 9-4X
We keep hearing bad news from SAAB for a few weeks and the latest one concerns the company’s inability to pay its employees. Swedish Automobile (formerly known as Spyker Cars), who is the owner of SAAB revealed this week that they don’t have enough money to pay the workers. As you probably already know, the Swedish automaker is having discussions with various companies in order to grab the necessary funding to keep the company alive.
Last week, on June 13th, SAAB said something about a 218 million pounds investment. This sum of money is expected to come from a Chinese manufacturing firm by the name of Youngman, who will be investing 121 million pounds, in exchange for a 29.9% stake in the company. The rest of the cash will come from Pang Da, yet another Chinese company, who will be investing 97 million pounds for a 24% stake in the Swedish automaker.
We hope that SAAB will find a solution to these financial problems once and for all.
Source: SAAB via WhatCar
A few days ago, Ford announced a new engine in its lineup, the 3-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost power unit, which will be the smallest one available and it will be offered on a global scale. This new small power unit will benefit from a turbocharger, twin independent variable camshaft timing (aka Ti-VCT) and direct injection.
We don’t know the exact output of this engine but Ford says that it will offer similar performances in comparison to the bigger, 4-cylinder 1.6-liter unit that they use in the Fiesta, which means that power output should be around the 120 hp (122 PS / 89 kW) and 112 lb.-ft (152 Nm) mark.
We’ll have more information in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
PS: The engine in this photo is a 4-cylinder EcoBoost gasoline unit from Ford.
Source: Ford via WCF
2012 Fiat 500C
The second model in Fiat’s lineup for the North American market is the 500C. The base price for the convertible is $20,000 for the entry-level “Pop” model; while the top-spec “Lounge” will set you back $24,000. The 500C variant is available in only two models, while the hatchback has a third one, named “Sport”.
Based on the consumer inquiries and the dealer feedback, the Italian automaker is expecting that the cabrio version will exceed 10% of all 500 sales. For this year, Fiat’s sales target in the United States is 45,000 units for the 500 model
The car is available with a choice of three colors for the convertible top: red, black and tan. The sliding roof of the cabrio comes with a color-matched spoiler. Customers can choose from one of the 14 exterior colors available.
The Fiat 500C is sold with a four-year / 5,000-mile warranty that includes roadside assistance. In addition, buyers also get a three-year / 36,000-mile maintenance package.
In other news, the automaker said that 58 of its 130 dealerships planned for the United States are up and running. The Fiat 500 went on sale on March 2nd and customers already bought 2,200 units. Regarding the 500C, the company says that it has 70% less header shake in comparison to its rivals.
The Fiat 500C is powered by the same engine as we find in the standard 500 model, a 1.4-liter FIRE power plant that benefits from the company’s MultiAir technology that can regulate the valve openings in order to bring maximum efficiency, fuel economy and performance. The convertible mechanism of the car was built by Magna, while Haartz was responsible for developing the cloth for the car’s power top. In comparison to the regular version, the cabrio is 50 pounds heavier.
The former Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen has made its official debut in the NASCAR racing series last weekend and he did a pretty good job. He participated in the Camping World Truck Series NC Education Lottery 200 in his No. 15 Perky Jerky Toyota Tundra.
He started the race from the 31st position, managing to end it in a respectable 15th position, crossing the finish line on the same lap as the leaders of the race. At one point during the race, the Finnish driver was on the seventh place, but he lost a lot of ground when he missed a pit stop at a crucial moment in the race.
He successfully evaded lots of multi-car accidents that happened in front of him and he managed to survive a couple of close calls. Kyle Busch, Raikkonen’s teammate won that race.
The F1 champion will return this weekend to Charlotte in order to participate in the Nationwide Series race, driving a Toyota Camry.
2011 Jaguar XF
Jaguar has announced last week that the entry-level model will be delayed in order to make room for the new generation of the XF which will be launched sometime in 2015. The reason behind this decision was that the model would have stolen sales from the current XF because both models have just about the same size. This means that the entry-level model will be out after a new, bigger XF is launched.
By postponing the launch of this model, the British automaker will have more time for improving the car, which will probably launched in 2016 or 2017.
We have some bad news for those of you who were waiting for the European-based EVCup as it was delayed until next year. This specially-designed electric car race series has been conceived in order to bring EVs to the world of motorsports. The good news is that the races scheduled for the end of this year, the ones at the Auto Club Speedway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will still be organized.
This EVCup consists of three different race classes: the CityEV, SportsEV, along with the PrototypeEV. The latter was designed for any type of non-production electric racing vehicle. The first category features only Think City EVs that have been race-modified. As far as the SportsEV class is concerned, it exclusively consists of only Westfield iRacers single-seaters.
We’ll keep you posted if more changes will occur in the EVCup schedule.
Source: EVCup via AllCarsElectric
Lotus Elan Concept
It seems that we have some bad news for those of you who were waiting for the revival of the Lotus Elan. A spokesperson for the company told our colleagues from Car and Driver the other day that the 2-seat, mid-engine coupe will not be out until 2016, at least. The car that we saw last year at the Paris Motor Show was supposed to be out sometime in 2013 or 2014, replacing the Evora.
Lotus says that its Evora model, which was introduced in 2009, will be “allowed to have a more traditional life cycle”. In other words, it means that the British company will continue to produce the model for at least 5-6 years. There are good chances for a second generation of the Evora, but nothing is certain at the moment. If there won’t be a second-gen Evora, Lotus will roll out the Elan, but we don’t know if the company is considering two distinct cars, one Elan and one Evora II.
We do know that more variants of the Evora will be launched in the following years. This year, Lotus will roll out the Evora S with a 345-hp engine and the Evora IPS which will feature an automatic gearbox. Although this is good news, these two new variants will not pay the company’s bills and the executives over at Lotus know this so more tweaked Evoras will certainly be launched in the future. If you didn’t know, the car was developed from start to accommodate an open-roof model and we will probably see one in 2-3 years or so. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if we’ll see a more lighter and track-oriented Evora, following the same recipe of just about every model ever made by Lotus.
The Lotus Esprit is set to arrive in dealerships in 2013 which means that until then the Evora will be the only model produced by the company, taking into consideration that starting with this summer; the company will discontinue the production of its legendary Elise and Exige models.
As a reminder, back in September last year at the Paris Motor Show, the British automaker said that they are developing six new different models. It seemed a little bit too much ambitious at that time and now we have the confirmation that they can’t live up to their promises. We believe that other scheduled introductions will also be delayed. Let’s hope we’re wrong about this one.
Source: Lotus via Car And Driver
We live in a crazy world where the price for gas increases, although the oil price drops. According to Lundberg Report, the average price of a gallon of gas in the United States rose to 4$ a gallon, which is 12 cents more than two weeks ago.
According to some analysts, $4-4, 50 is the tipping point at which the drivers change their driving patterns by riding with friends, trying to combine trips or simply reduce the numbers of miles covered.
Over the last few months, one of the hottest car segments was the compact, fueled by the launch of the Chevrolet Cruze and the Hyundai Elantra. Due to the reason that the Japanese auto industry is still affected by the natural calamities, the inventory levels of high-mileage hybrids will be limited through this following summer.
2012 Saab 9-3 Griffin
Saab’s problems with cash flow have been solved, at least for a couple of months, courtesy of a significant Chinese investment that will allow the Swedish automaker to resume production at its factory in Trolhattan. Spyker, the owner of Saab, has announced this week that they’ve signed up a deal with Hawtai, a Chinese car manufacturer, which will invest 150 million Euros, taking 29.9% stake. They will also give Spyker another 30 million Euros as a convertible loan.
This deal will clear the path for Saab’s entry to the very competitive Chinese market, which is very important for the company’s attempt to boost up sales to a profitable level. Hawtai decided to make this move because of Saab’s potential for technology sharing as well as the company’s European sales network.
The Trolhattan factory has been closed for more than a month due to unpaid bills, the suppliers refusing to send the necessary components. Production should restart next week and everything should be back on track.
Yesterday, Spyker grabbed another 60 million Euros of funding from a Lithuanian-owned investment fund and Vladimir Antonov, a very wealthy Russian businessman.
Source: Saab via Autocar