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Tesla Pulls Off Successful IPO

By Chris Haak

Electric-vehicle manufacturer Tesla pulled off a successful initial public offering yesterday, selling at least 13.3 million shares at $17 per share, which is above the $14 to $16 range that the company’s underwriters had proposed.  The gross proceeds of the stock sale were $226.1 million, with about $202 million going to Tesla as proceeds to help it develop its Model S electric sedan and ramp up production of that car.

Tesla’s IPO marks the first IPO of a US automaker since Ford’s IPO way back in 1956.  The IPO values the company at about $1.33 billion, because only about 17 percent of the company was sold to the public via the IPO.  Several early investors, including founder and CEO Elon Musk, sold portions of their stakes in the company to raise funds.

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2011 Dodge Challenger Set to Receive Upgrades

By Chris Haak

Not content to let the Camaro and Mustang receive all of the glory (and retail sales), Dodge is slated to introduce some substantial upgrades to its retro-styled muscle car, the Challenger, according to a .  This will mark the car’s first mid-cycle enhancement.

Allpar says that the 2011 Challenger will receive “major interior upgrades” (hopefully improving the style as much as the materials; the current car’s sedate interior styling is disconnected from the reality of its aggressive and flashy exterior) as well as a new Garmin-sourced navigation system.

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Dodge Plans “Man Van” to Battle Toyota Sienna SE
Jun28

Dodge Plans “Man Van” to Battle Toyota Sienna SE

By Chris Haak

Perhaps we’re on the cusp of a minivan revival.  The vehicle most associated with soccer moms, and nerdy, utilitarian transportation will have nearly all new or refreshed offerings for the 2011 model year.  Toyota’s 2011 Sienna has been on the road for a few months, and are sprouting up here and there.  Honda just revealed its all-new 2011 Odyssey, and Chrysler is going to refresh its Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country vans for 2011 with the new Pentastar V6 engine family and some other upgrades.  The Town & Country is slated to receive a redesigned front end as well.

Toyota has taken a marketing approach with the new Sienna that makes light of the un-hip image of minivans, attacking the perceptions head-on.  They’re a little corny, but also pretty darn funny.  For instance, the “Swagger Wagon” rap video is after the jump.

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Forget The Track, Head to the Go-Kart
Jun21

Forget The Track, Head to the Go-Kart

By James Wong

Ever since I got my driving licence, I aimed to improve my driving abilities by getting into motorsports. But as I’ve realised from my dwindling savings account, this is by no means a cheap hobby, especially when it involves a road-going car of your own. I have been to the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) in Malaysia for a few times now, but I have to cut down because of the prohibitive costs involved. I signed up for various driving courses but I am limited by two things – my age and again, money. Most driving courses require a minimum age because of insurance issues, and since they’ll be providing the cars (assuming that they do in the first place), you’re paying for the wear and tear of their cars as well. Where does that lead me, an enthusiast who just wants to learn how to drive a car fast, properly?

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Honda Reveals All-New 2011 Odyssey Minivan
Jun18

Honda Reveals All-New 2011 Odyssey Minivan

By Chris Haak

At this year’s Chicago Auto Show, Honda previewed its 2011 Odyssey minivan concept.  True to Honda’s recent practice, the so-called “concept” was nothing but a very strong hint as to what the production vehicle would look like.  Honda did the same thing with the most recent versions of the Accord coupe, Pilot, Insight, and CR-Z as well.

Honda has now revealed the production 2011 Odyssey, set to go toe-to-toe against its arch-rival, the also all-new 2011 Toyota Sienna.  Though both new vans carry the same 2011 model-year designation, the Sienna got a several-month head start on the new Odyssey by hitting the market this past spring; the Odyssey, instead, will appear at dealers this fall, around the time that the new model year vehicles would typically appear.

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Mahindra Sued by its US Importer

By Chris Haak

This can’t be seen as good news for the prospects for Mahindra’s much-anticipated India-built small pickup reaching US shores this year, or perhaps anytime.  We’ve been covering the saga of Mahindra’s US launch for some time, with our last entry on May 10 talking about how the vehicles have passed their federal certifications and that the parent company just had to file the paperwork and launch the trucks.

Now, this story has taken another turn. According to [sub required], Global Vehicles is now suing Mahindra for breaching its 2006 agreement to provide it with vehicles for sale.  According to the lawsuit filed on June 14, Global Vehicles twice submitted purchase orders for Mahindra vehicles that were rejected by the Mumbai-based company.

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Toyota Will Build Corollas in Mothballed Mississippi Plant

By Chris Haak

Before the global economic collapse, when Toyota began construction of its new plant in Tupelo, Mississippi, the automaker had planned to build Highlander crossovers at the plant, as Highlander demand was booming at the time.  Before tooling for the plant had been installed, a series of events conspired to change Toyota’s plans.  First, Tundra sales significantly slowed, so that Toyota was able to shift all Tundra production to San Antonio, leaving extra capacity in Princeton, Indiana.

Princeton’s capacity was then absorbed by moving Highlander production that had been intended for Tupelo to Indiana.  Tupelo was then left without a product, but Toyota subsequently announced plans to produce the Prius there.  When the global auto market slowdown hit, Toyota no longer needed the capacity to produce the Prius, so the company completed the exterior shell of the Tupelo plant to prevent damage, then left it vacant while it decided what product to produce there.

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Opel Withdraws State Aid Requests; GM Will Finance Restructuring Itself

By Chris Haak

Less than a week after the German government declined to provide the state aid that Opel requested to partially fund its restructuring, GM’s European arm has decided to withdraw all requests for state aid.  Instead, the automaker will fund its €3.6 billion restructuring program with money from the parent company, according to GM Europe CEO Nick Reilly (pictured).

Though the company did not say so, most of the change of heart is probably an attempt to shed the “loser” image that Opel increasingly seems to find associated with itself, as its initial request for aid dates back prior to GM’s bankruptcy, or more than a year ago.  In the ensuing months, Opel has begged, pleaded, and cajoled Berlin – not to mention other European capitals and other German state capitals – to open the purse strings to improve Opel’s competitiveness, from a cost and a product standpoint.

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