With president-elect Barak Obama soon to be sworn in as the nation's leader, a new presidential limousine was in call for and once again General Motors was assigned the task of building it. Nicknamed 'The Beast', the limo is based on a number of GM platforms and shares components with several different vehicles. Its exterior is styled around the Cadillac DTS but underneath the sheet-metal the vehicle is built on a medium-duty truck chassis. The limo has recently been seen testing in prototype form alongside several GMC Topkick pickups, and according to onlookers the wheels and tires on the limo are almost identical to those on the trucks – 19.5in Goodyear Regional RHS tires. The rest of the exterior includes parts from several Cadillac models, such as headlights from an Escalade, and the grille and taillights from an STS.
Back in June of last year, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Mitsubishi announced that both companies were to start a feasibility study in the field of electric powertrains. The project, which was to run over several months, related to the development, the manufacture and the use of an electric powertrain for small urban vehicles. Japan's Nikkei daily is now reporting that Mitsubishi will actually supply its i-Miev electric vehicle to PSA Peugeot Citroen as early as next year. Up to 10,000 of the compact electric cars may be supplied to the French carmaker by 2011, with most of the cars expected to be sold in France as well as several other European nations.
Mercedes-Benz has been fined $28.9 million for failure to meet federal fuel efficiency standards by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this week. The amount is the second-largest in the history of agency. Part of the U.S. CAFE standards, enforced by the NHTSA includes a provision for fines when the requisite levels of efficiency aren't met. That power of enforcement also saw Porsche Cars North America, Maserati Automobiles and Ferrari North America pay fines of $1.1-1.2 million apiece, reports the Detroit Free Press.
The fund-raising process of auctioning off much of the contents of General Motors' historic Heritage Collection of cars hits a potential high-note, at least to a do-it-your-selfer's eye, with the sale of a Corvette ZR-1 rolling chassis. Though the exact state of the chassis isn't known, it does appear to be complete with a 6.2L supercharged LS9 engine. Full suspension, wheels and tires and a very minimalist amount of interior elements sum up the remainder of the included equipment, but that won't stop hotrodders and customizers the world over from heading to the Barrett-Jackson auction where the chassis will be sold. The auction materials indicate the car may not be titled or licensed, however, hinting that it may be a pre-production vehicle or even a display-only model built for use at the 2008 Detroit Show as part of a technology showcase.
Despite adamant statements to the contrary, the production verion of the Chevrolet Beat could be made available for sale in the U.S. On this morning's Today Show, General Motors product guru Ed Welburn talked with Matt Lauer about the car, which will be on display at the Detroit Auto Show. Rumors of North American availability have persisted despite GM's statement that the car couldn't be made to meet federal safety standards without significant re-design. The car was always intended as an entry in Asian and other markets, however.
The Zolfe Orange is a compact British sports car designed and built for racing enthusiasts looking for a fun and relatively low-cost entry into the world of weekend motorsports. The car was spawned from a collaboration between Midlands business entrepreneur Nic Strong and former Caterham Technical Director, Jez Coates, and has just entered limited production. It features a spaceframe chassis and composite body, and tips the scales at just over 700kg. Power of 185hp (138kW) comes from a 2.3L Ford Duratec engine and is sent to the rear wheels via a Mazda-sourced five-speed gearbox and an optional limited slip differential.
Ford is enhancing the connectivity capabilities of its vehicles by introducing exclusive new SYNC real-time information features that deliver personalized news updates to drivers' mobile phones while also helping them navigate around trouble spots in the hope to save time and fuel. SYNC is an electronic communications and entertainment interface developed by Ford and Microsoft. Ford's next-generation system – SYNC with Traffic, Directions and Information – was unveiled at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show this week, and is destined to provide simple handsfree access to personalized traffic reports, precise turn-by-turn driving directions and up-to-date information including business listings, news, sports and weather. To take advantage of Traffic, Directions and Information, customers simply have to pair their Bluetooth-enabled phone with SYNC and activate the service via a special website.
Oberlin, Ohio, isn't the likely site for a company specializing in high-output power upgrades for German exotics like the Porsche 911, but the state is home to Switzer Performance Innovations (SPI), a company churning out mega horsepower cars. Started by Tym Switzer several years ago, the tuning firm is now offering a 1,000hp (748kW) twin-turbo kit for Porsche 996 and 997 models. With his latest project, Tym and the crew at SPI wanted to test the limits of what would be possible with stock 997 internals.
Audi has recorded sales of over one million cars in a 12 month period for the first time, and at the same time achieved its 13th record year of sales in a row. Worldwide, the carmaker's sales increased 4.1% through 2008, with 12 new models and expansion into new markets helping to boost the numbers. In 2008 Audi sold a total of 1,003,400 cars worldwide, up from 964,151 the year before. With the newly introduced Q5 and the new A4 family, sales in December alone increased by 17.4% over the prior year's December.
Toyota has announced that it will launch a new telematics systems later this year for select Toyota and Lexus models, similar to the current service offered by General Motors' OnStar system. Named 'Safety Connect' for Toyota, and Lexus Enform for the carmaker's luxury division, the new system will help to improve the safety of Toyota and Lexus vehicles as well offer new convenience features. Starting with Safety Connect, the new telematics offerings include Automatic Collision Notification (ACN), designed to contact emergency services in the event of either an airbag deployment or a severe rear-end collision, Stolen Vehicle Location (SVL), which provides vehicle tracking in case a vehicle is stolen, Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), which connects users to a 24-hour emergency hotline, and finally 24-hours Roadside Assistance.
Since General Motors put Saab under strategic review late last year as part of its Congressionally-mandated plan to return to viability, it has been shopping for buyers. News from within the company today reveals that there has been no serious interest in the brand. A source within GM revealed the lack of buyers to Automotive News, noting that GM has failed to sell off its Hummer brand as well. The trouble in getting rid of the brands could be explained as simply as a symptom of the global economic situation, and especially the downtrodden auto industry - risk aversion and low cash reserves would keep almost all potentially interested buyers from making offers.
The Tokyo Auto Show gets underway this Friday, but already the exhibits of the major carmakers are hitting the web. Nissan released its set of show cars today, including a range of custom packages for the 370Z, GT-R and Cube. Nissan's GT-R super-coupe is shown off by NISMO in Club Sports form, which entails a custom chassis, carbon fiber bucket seat and titanium exhaust system among other tweaks. The car is tested to reduce the standard GT-R's lap times at Sendai Hi-land Raceway by over a second - all while preserving the factory warranty. Another GT-R, the Xanavi NISMO GT-R Super GT 2008 GT500 race car, and winner of the 2008 Driver's Championship, will also be on display. The 370Z, revealed in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show, gets a 'Fairlady Z Stylish Package' already previewed here.
A long series of teasers and spy shots have given hints at what the 2010 Buick LaCrosse would look like, but today General Motors has revealed the whole package just ahead of the start of the Detroit Auto Show. While the design is completely fresh, the car is also "instantly recognizable as a Buick" says Ed Welburn, vice president of GM Global Design. Key styling elements, including the 'sweep spear' side feature, portholes in the hood and the waterfall grille carry over classic Buick traits. The LaCrosse had originally been planned for a debut at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, but that was pushed back due to cash shortfalls at the end of the year as GM pulled out of the show entirely.