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New York 2011: Honda Shows Production Versions of 2012 Civic
Apr21

New York 2011: Honda Shows Production Versions of 2012 Civic

By Chris Haak

Back in January, Honda used the Detroit Auto Show to debut lightly-disguised concept versions of its 2012 Civic coupe and sedan.  We covered that here already back then, so there’s no need to rehash all of that.  In a nutshell, the new Civic is safer, more comfortable, and more efficient than the car it replaces.  It’s also slightly – and I mean slightly – better looking than the 2011 car, with a bit more character and visual interest, and more resolved C-pillar treatment, particularly for the sedan.

The car actually went on sale today, April 20, so it’s a good thing that Honda’s press conference wasn’t bumped to day two of the show.  The biggest news that we got today on the Civic was pricing and fuel economy figures, neither of which had been confirmed until now.

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New York 2011: Nissan Reveals 2012 Versa
Apr20

New York 2011: Nissan Reveals 2012 Versa

By Chris Haak

Nissan’s Versa, which competes against subcompacts such as the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, has the value proposition of being the “big small car,” and indeed, the current Versa is a relative value.  It’s a good car that accomplishes the rare feat of “small on the outside, big on the inside,” but is saddled with oddball looks, as if its designers spent a little too much time with its French cousins from Renault.

Today in New York, the Japanese automaker showed its next-generation Versa (also known as Tiida in other parts of the world).  It’s clear that the 2012 Versa’s designers tried very hard to give the car a more fluid, dynamic, upscale shape.  It’s not clear, however, that they completely succeeded.

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Chrysler Fills out SRT8 Lineup with 300C SRT8 and Grand Cherokee SRT8
Apr20

Chrysler Fills out SRT8 Lineup with 300C SRT8 and Grand Cherokee SRT8

By Chris Haak

I love attending auto shows – I’ve been doing it for two decades.  But in recent years, attending an auto show in person has become an exercise of questionable utility.  You’re herded like cattle from press conference to press conference.  You have to make a choice as to whether you want to hear the press conference or step away to write about something you saw or heard earlier.  But lately, it’s also come to the point that there is no such thing as a “reveal.”  That’s happened online, either intentionally or unintentionally, in the days or even weeks leading up to the show.

And so it was with the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and 2012 Chrysler 300C SRT8.  The Dodge Charger SRT8 was revealed months ago, and it stood to reason that we’d see SRT8 versions of the new Grand Cherokee and 300C as well.  Spy photos appeared of the Grand Cherokee SRT8, offering further confirmation that this new vehicle was on its way eventually.

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New York Auto Show Press Days #1

By Chris Haak

We’re on the ground here in New York at the scenic Jacob Javits Convention Center enjoying the first day of press conferences (the construction along 34th Street leading to the building was particularly lovely) .  So far, the show has not disappointed, with far more new-model introductions than we’ve seen in past years.

In just the first two and a half hours, we’ve seen Honda release a Civic Hybrid that gets 44 MPG combined and a non-hybrid Civic that gets 41 MPG on the highway.  We’ve seen the amazing Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, which adds 45 horsepower and tastefully aggressive body tweaks.  Ford has revealed what I believe is its first 2013 production model, the revised Taurus.  The new Taurus will get a mid-cycle refresh that changes the front and rear fascias a bit, and adds MyFord Touch to the interior.  The Taurus is also getting a 31-MPG 2.5 liter EcoBoost four cylinder option.

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U.S. Government Will Sell Its GM Shares This Year – Another Wistful Dream Is Dead
Apr19

U.S. Government Will Sell Its GM Shares This Year – Another Wistful Dream Is Dead

By Brendan Moore

The chatter in Washington is that the U.S. Treasury Department is going to sell most of its shares it received in General Motors stock in 2009 as part of the auto industry bailout package, perhaps as early as this summer. The reasons are either political or financial, depending on whom you ask. Some will tell you that the Obama administration wants the sale this year so that the federal bailout of GM is a non-issue in the 2012 presidential election, and some say that the sale is going to happen this year because the Treasury department thinks the current stock price is as high as it’s going to get for the foreseeable future.

Either way, unless the share price climbs above an unlikely $53 a share before the sale date, the Treasury’s dream of making a profit on the bailout is not going to be realized. At $53 a share, the federal government breaks even on the $50 billion it “loaned” GM, but at the current share price of approximately $30 (well below the $33 IPO price of last November, which raised around $20 billion), taxpayers would lose around $11 billion.

The U.S. Treasury currently owns 500 million shares of the reconstituted GM, which represents 33% of the company’s worth.

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