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2011 Chevrolet Volt is Motor Trend’s Car of the Year

By Chris Haak

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt has been christened the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year.  The award comes as no surprise to many, considering the moonshot that the effort to develop the Volt, meet timelines, and deliver on the program’s objectives – primarily, to allow for about 40 miles of gasoline-free travel between charges, and allow drivers to travel infinitely further beyond 40 miles using the car’s onboard gasoline engine to generate power.

This year, the editors of Motor Trend evaluated 21 new or heavily-updated contenders, but none of the other models in the competition were non-hybrid, non-EV, conventional vehicles.  By their nature, conventional internal combustion-only vehicles are not as complex or sophisticated as a hybrid, and certainly do not require the resources to develop that the Volt consumed.

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Cadillac Debuts Urban Luxury Concept in Los Angeles
Nov17

Cadillac Debuts Urban Luxury Concept in Los Angeles

By Charles Krome

Last night, during a 10th anniversary celebration of GM’s North Hollywood Advanced Design Center, Cadillac premiered its latest show vehicle, the unimaginatively named Urban Luxury Concept. The big news here is the car’s small size, which has some folks thinking the ULC is nothing more than Cadillac’s answer for the Aston Martin Cygnet. Yet a closer look at the car’s dimensions—and innovative interior—reveals a package that would be much more livable than that tarted-up Toyota iQ.

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Platform Sharing Set to Increase Dramatically

By Chris Haak

Automotive News [] reported this week on an analysis prepared by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers that projects huge global production volumes for shared platforms.  We’re not talking about rebadges here, but rather the fundamental “bones” underlying a particular vehicle, or in this case, a series of vehicles.

According to PwC, the top-ten vehicle platforms for 2016 will account for over 27.1 million units of production.  These same platforms, which are in various stages of their rollout in 2010, account for about 14.2 million units of production.  Yes, increased sales volumes as the global auto industry recovers can be partially credited to this potential 91 percent increase, but most of it points to consolidation of disparate vehicles – sometimes sold under completely different brands – onto versions of a single platform.

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2012 Buick LaCrosse to Get 25 MPG City/37 MPG Highway
Nov15

2012 Buick LaCrosse to Get 25 MPG City/37 MPG Highway

By Charles Krome

Okay, first things first: GM says the new powertrain gadgetry set to debut on the 2012 Buick LaCrosse—and deliver estimated EPA ratings of 25 mpg city and 37 mpg highway—is NOT a hybrid setup. Instead, the eAssist technology is a “light electrification” system that just happens to holster a lithium-ion battery pack, an integrated power inverter, a 12-volt power supply and an “electric motor-generator,” all of which work to increase the LaCrosse’s fuel efficiency by about 25 percent and offer an extra 11 kW (15 hp) of power during acceleration.

I suppose the difference is that, according to Steve Poulos, the system’s chief engineer, “The battery system is designed to provide power assistance to the internal combustion engine, rather than storing energy for all-electric propulsion. It’s really an extension of the conventional internal combustion engine, not a replacement for it.”

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What Will Be the Theme For the 2010 L.A. Auto Show?

By Tim Healey

The Los Angeles Auto Show is the last major show in the calendar year, but it’s the first one of the auto-show season. While the biggest reveals are saved for Detroit, automakers looking to get ahead of the curve won’t hesitate to launch new products in L.A.

Given its sunny West Coast location, and California’s “green” leanings, it’s not uncommon for OEMs to introduce hybrids or other alternative fuel vehicles along with convertibles and other fun-in-the-sun type autos. So what does the show have in store for this year?

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GE Plans to Buy 25,000 Electric Vehicles

By Chris Haak

Giant industrial conglomerate General Electric has announced plans to purchase 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015 for its fleet.  These purchases represent fully one-half of GE’s corporate fleet, and are an immediate shot in the arm for EV demand in the US.

Though there are certainly environmental benefits to be seen through a large purchase of [tailpipe] emission-free vehicles, the move is not purely altrustic on GE’s part.  The company obviously gets a considerable amount of goodwill from stepping up to the plate and becoming an early adopter of EV technology.

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NTSB Identifies Baby Boomers as a Major Road Hazard

By Chris Haak

As we know, the – those born in the postwar period between 1946 and 1964 in the US – is getting older, and as the baby boom goes, in many ways, so does the United States.  As members of this group enter various stages of their lives, the enormous size of their ranks mean that they have a profound impact on culture and the economy.

Just think back to the early years – say, the early 1960s – as that generation was entering school age.  Their numbers required the construction of new schools (ever notice how so many public schools are 1960s-vintage?)  Then in 1964, as the first boomers hit age 18, there was a car called the Ford Mustang making its debut at the New York World’s Fair that was perfectly catered to the idealistic, independent youth.  And that car sold like hotcakes.  This generation actively participated in the muscle car era, and consumed a considerable amount of the world’s natural resources as they entered their prime earning years and purchased more and more SUVs.

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From Jay Leno’s Garage to Yours
Nov11

From Jay Leno’s Garage to Yours

By Charles Krome

Like a number of other auto observers, I’m jumping on a recent survey from that bastion of journalistic integrity known as The Hollywood Reporter, which in this case commissioned an in-depth look at the audience demographics for the country’s top four late-night talk shows—including the preferred auto brand for each show’s audience. And what makes this particular factoid especially interesting for us is that the hosts of three of the four shows in question have some serious gearhead cred.

Take a certain Jay Leno, who in addition to handling “The Tonight Show” duties also happens to have one of the most amazing car collections on the planet. Leno’s menagerie has now grown to nearly 100 cars, and we’re talking about some serious metal here. There’s everything from a 1906 Stanley Steamer to a 2006 GM EcoJet. Haven’t heard of the latter? The 650-hp supercar, powered by a Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine running on bio-diesel, was something he thought up during a chat with GM design chief Ed Welburn back in the day, and GM was kind enough to put one together for him.

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