Rpmgo.com – Read the latest auto news and opinions, see the coolest cars – Part 44

Audi is keeping up with the marketing push for its A1 model and has released the third video in ‘The Next Big Thing‘ film series.

We’ve already seen the first and the second videos, but the third one takes the awkwardness factor much higher. Luckily we get to see the lovely Dania Ramirez doing some more provocative fighting.

Anyway, by now you’re either intrigued or turned off by this marketing attempt, so hit the jump if you want to check out the third video.
Read More: “Video: Third video in Audi’s The Next Big Thing series revealed”

After General Motors and Chrysler were bailed out by the government in summer of 2009, things have been slowly getting back on track for the two carmakers.

Since then, GM has been riding high as it pushed out new and attractive models, as well as completely paying back the cash loans it received from the US and Canadian government. Meanwhile, at Chrysler, things have been pretty quiet, with Fiat busy reorganizing and trimming down the US corporation.

Now, team Pentastar finally has a reason to celebrate a bit, as it has repaid another batch of its government loan. The company has just paid back $1.9 billion, taking its total to $3.9 billion. For those who forgot, the carmaker owes around $14.3 billion to the federal government, so it still has a lot of cost cutting to do.

Still, even with loans to pay and new models to develop, Chrysler execs are feeling confident and say that things are going to get even better. Do you believe them? Share your thoughts below.

Read More: “Chrysler repays $1.9 billion in government loans”

BMW’s ActiveHybrid range is going to receive a smaller model soon in the form of the best selling 3 Series. The model, according to BMW head honcho Norbert Reithofer, will join the 7 Series, X6 and the recent 2011 5 Series concept.

The Bavarian executive revealed this fact in a recent shareholder meeting where he highlighted that hybrids are becoming increasingly important and popular in specific markets (USA or Japan). As such, the 5 Series ActiveHybrid prototype we saw in Geneva a couple of months ago will be making its way into production next year, followed by a 3 Series hybrid, presumably based on the next generation model.

Besides reaching to hybrid-friendly markets, the new models will further augment the eco-consciuos image of BMW as well as lower the CO2 emission average across the whole lineup.

Read More: “BMW confirms 3 Series hybrid coming soon”

The 24 Hours of Nurburgring saw some pretty sweet racing action, pitting BMW versus Porsche and Audi. While the main race was won by a BMW M3 GT2 model, the rest of the event wasn’t without surprises.

One of the biggest incidents in the race through the ‘Green Hell’, as the Nurburgring Nordschleife is nicknamed, involved the #114 Lotus Exige. The car was being driven by Roger Green, an editor of British car magazine EVO, and, on one of the laps, the car’s rear-mounted engine burst into flames.

Green showed some nerves of steel and managed to keep driving the Exige until a patch of grass was found, after which he quickly jumped out of the flaming Lotus. Thankfully he was unhurt and the fire team quickly intervened so that the blaze was extinguished.

Hit the jump to see the whole flaming Lotus incident from the 24 Hours of Nurburgring endurance race.
Read More: “Video: Lotus Exige bursts into flames at Nurburgring 24, driver escapes unharmed”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just announced that 2004 C5 Chevrolet Corvette owners might have a big problem with the fuel tanks fitted to their sportscars.

It seems that the federal authority received 30 complaints regarding the leaky fuel tanks, which result in spilled gasoline or fumes coming from the back of the C5 Corvette.

33,000 2004 Chevrolet Corvette models will now be examined by the NHTSA, and GM has announced that even though it wasn’t aware of the fuel tank problems, it will cooperate fully with the federal team.

Most probably this will result in a future recall affecting all models. Until then, if you’ve noticed potential leaks with your own Corvette, perhaps it might be time to stop using it and contact your local dealership.

Read More: “NHTSA opens investigation into C5 Chevrolet Corvette models over leaky fuel tanks”

Aston Martin kicked up its exclusivity factor into overdrive when it announced that only 77 models of the upcoming One-77 hypercar will be made.

But while people were blown away by its performance figures, over 700 HP drawn from its 7.3-liter V12, a new bit of info is certain to get some more hype going around the future model.

It seems that an anonymous buyer, presumably from the Middle East, has placed an order for a ‘few’ One-77 models. How many, you ask? Just 10 cars, totaling about $17 million.

That’s right, one lucky (or crazy) guy dropped that money to get 10 Aston Martin One-77 hypercars, each set to be distinguished by exterior and interior trim. Aston doesn’t want to say who that specific buyer is, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a trailer with 10 such models rolling around the Arab Emirates when the cars start shipping.

So, remaining rich people, you should definitely order a One-77 as soon as possible until they’re all accounted for.

Read More: “Mystery buyer orders 10 Aston Martin One-77 hypercars for $17 million”

At the end of the year, when GM will officially start rolling out the new Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle into select markets, we know that a mobile OnStar application will also be released. It will allow owners to check battery charge levels and find out other important things about their car.

Last week, we also heard that GM might be talking with software and search engine giant Google, in order to use its Android mobile operating system on future cars. Many people expected to find out something about this partnership yesterday, at a prepared press conference.

Sadly, at least for those who wanted a Google Android-powered car, the announcement wasn’t that groundbreaking. It seems that for the aforementioned OnStar app, GM will use the Google Maps mobile navigation software, instead of its own system.

It won’t be available at launch with the OnStar app, but will be featured in the 2.0 variant, which isn’t even dated for release.

Who knows what other plans GM and Google may be talking about, but if they’re still about navigation, then we’re not that excited.

Read More: “GM’s OnStar mobile app to use Google Maps for Chevrolet Volt navigation”

Germany has no shortage of tuning companies, but one of the most popular was definitely Gemballa, with a history of over 30 years in customizing mainly Porsche models but also dabbling in Ferrari work.

As you might have heard, at the beginning of the year, the company’s founder and CEO, Uwe Gemballa, had gone missing in South Africa. It seems that he went there in search of new investors for his future projects, and also visited Abu Dhabi before going to the African nation.

After quite a few months of searching, local police have found nothing to indicate his whereabouts. Sadly, it now seems he might not have anything to come back to, as the Gemballa company has been closed down by German authorities after becoming incapable of paying its own employees, effectively going bankrupt.

We still can’t say for sure if Mr. Gemballa’s disappearance was premeditated or not, but we will certainly miss the great tuning and customization projects his company released over the years.

Read More: “Tuning company Gemballa shuts down, founder still missing”

The rumor mill has started spinning once more, this time with details about the next upgrade for the Nissan GT-R model.

It seems that the guys at Autoblog have it on good authority that the 2012 model year will pack an upgraded version of the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, capable of around 500 HP and 450 lb-ft of torque. The current GT-R is ‘only’ capable of 475 HP and 414 lb-ft.

More power isn’t the only goal for the 2012 Nissan GT-R as a host of aerodynamic improvements are also quite likely. From a new front splitter to a rear diffuser or an optimized wing, all of these components will aim at making it faster and handle even better.

Plus, as an added treat, after the preliminary Nurburgring testing that occurred sometime last month, the 2012 GT-R lapped the famous circuit much faster than the original GT-R’s 7:26 run.

Stay tuned for more details on this optimized Godzilla as soon as they appear.

Read More: “2012 Nissan GT-R might upgrade to 500 HP”

At the beginning of 2009, Toyota looked untouchable and reigned over the rest of the car industry as the most profitable and popular carmaker in the world.

Fast forward to 2010, after two huge recall scandals, a big fine and many other disputes, and the Japanese company isn’t looking so fresh. According to various studies, it was overtaken in brand value by BMW and in customer loyalty by Hyundai.

A new survey has just appeared, this time from Consumer Reports, which charted brand loyalty (about the same thing as customer loyalty). The findings still put Toyota in a bad light. It seems that the company recorded a 13% drop in loyalty as opposed to 2009.

The new king is Honda, surprisingly, as 68% of current owners have declared that they are ‘highly likely’ to buy another car from the Japanese company. Ford is runner up with 61% and Toyota rounds off the podium with 58%.

While many deemed this period to be the end of the company, financial results show Toyota to be doing quite good, so we won’t mourn its passing anytime soon. Still, the large carmaker will have to work hard in order to gain back customer trust and increase in brand value.

Read More: “Toyota brand loyalty still declining, Honda and Ford overtake it, survey says”

General Motors has one more reason to celebrate this year, as the US carmaker has posted a net profit of $865 million for the first quarter of 2010. What’s even more impressive is that this is the first profit posted by GM since 2007.

The car manufacturer, which was bailed out last year by the US and Canadian governments, highlighted the fact that sales have improved, both domestically and abroad. With the improving economy, the company is expressing high hopes about its future.

“We’re pleased with our first-quarter performance, in particular achieving profitability,” Chris Liddell, GM vice chairman and chief financial officer, said in a statement. “In North America we are adding production to keep up with strong demand for new products in our four brands. We’re also steadily growing in emerging markets, keeping our costs under control, generating positive cash flow and maintaining a strong balance sheet. These are all important steps as we lay the foundation for a successful GM.”

Since it was bailed out on July 10 and until the end of 2009, GM lost around $4.3 billion. In 2010, the company has pushed new vehicles out the door and also managed to pay back the cash loans it received from the North American governments.

The next goal on GM’s agenda is to go public at the stock exchange, around late 2010 or early 2011, and to further repay the taxpayer dollars it received last year.

Read More: “GM posts $865 million first quarter profit, the first since 2007”

Without a doubt one of the most promising young drivers in Formula 1 is Sebastian Vettel, who makes a great team with Mark Webber at Red Bull Racing.

As you could imagine, bigger F1 teams have noticed this and are already expressing an interest in the German driver. But what does Vettel prefer? In order to find out, Spain’s El Pais newspaper interviewed the Red Bull driver about his future in F1.

“I am very happy with Red Bull,” Vettel said. “I am not going anywhere else, but in the future, I don’t know. I want to fight for the world championship, and if you look at the past, Ferrari has always designed very competitive cars. Why not go there in a few years? Ferrari is unlike any other team, it’s a legend. There are other brands that achieve great success, but Ferrari is special.”

Red Bull knows how important Vettel is, and signed him on for quite a few years, so he won’t be able to switch teams that easily. On the other hand, reports indicate that Ferrari might be interested in Vettel’s teammate, Webber, who showed impressive form by winning the last two F1 races in Barcelona and Monte Carlo.

The year-to-year contract the Australian pilot has with Red Bull isn’t the most secure, so we might get to see Felipe Massa replaced in 2011. Nothing is set in stone though, so until something is announced, there will be a lot of backstage fighting taking place in the motorsport competition.

Read More: “Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel expresses interest in Ferrari”

The partnership between Volkswagen and Suzuki is already spawning its first rumors and renders, with a sketch of a compact city crossover, the VW Rocktan, appearing on the Internet.

As you can see above, the Rocktan is heavily based on the SX4 crossover, a popular model from the Suzuki range. According to rumors, this new car will bridge the gap between the plastic-heavy CrossPolo and the Tiguan crossover. Voices say that this will eliminate the other plastic-clad VW model, the CrossGolf.

Expect the Volkswagen Rocktan to use many of the popular German engines, from the 1.4-liter TSI to a 1.6 or 2.0-liter TDI. According to sources, the SX4-based crossover will be priced at under €20,000 ($25,000), in order to compete with other compact crossovers like the Toyota Urban Cruiser or the Nissan Juke.

No word on when we will get to see the Rocktan, but you can expect it to hit around late 2011 or early 2012.

Read More: “Suzuki SX4-based Volkswagen Rocktan rendered”

Seeing as how carmakers like Honda stick to five-year life cycles for their bread and butter models, you would think that the current generation Civic, launched in 2005, would receive its replacement in the next few months right?

Not so fast, says American Honda executive vice president John Mendel, as a few key problems have appeared, meaning that we won’t get to see the next Japanese compact sedan for at least another year or so.

Why the delay? Tougher emissions and fuel average laws plus an increase in competition on the compact sedan segment (*cough* 2012 Ford Focus sedan). As such, the Japanese company has been forced to modify the size of the next Civic, in order to keep it as light and as compact as possible, as well as its equipment levels, in order to keep it competitive against its rivals.

While the current model is still managing to move quite a lot of units, Honda needs to be extra careful with the next generation, especially considering the stiff competition heading onto the market segment.

Read More: “Next generation Honda Civic arriving around 2011”

Last week, we revealed that Hollywood actress Uma Thurman will be lending her talents to Alfa Romeo in order to promote the new Giulietta hatchback model.

Now, the first ad, which currently airs on Italian TV, has been revealed, showcasing a few sides of both miss Thurman and the stylish hatch.

Our Italian may be a bit rusty, but the tag line is that ‘without hearts, we would be only machines’. Still, even if it’s in a foreign language, the beauty of both Uma Thurman and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is universal. Hit the jump to check out this new ad.
Read More: “Video: First Uma Thurman Alfa Romeo Giulietta ad appears”