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Cadillac’s CTS Coupe Debuts in L.A.
Nov23

Cadillac’s CTS Coupe Debuts in L.A.

By Brendan Moore

11.23.2009

2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe side

The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week.

Shown as a concept as far back as the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the attractive CTS Coupe has been through a long pregnancy due to GM’s financial difficulties, prominent among those being bankruptcy. The car was originally intended to be the focal point of Cadillac’s revitalized model line.

Sales of both RWD and AWD versions start in the spring of 2010, and a mighty, V-8 powered, 556 hp CTS-V iteration will bow late in the same year.

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Volvo Will Get another Bidder
Nov23

Volvo Will Get another Bidder

By Brendan Moore

11.23.2009

Volvo logoSwedish newspaper Dagens Industri has reported that a former Ford Motor Company board member is leading a consortium that intends to offer a bid for Volvo this week.

Ford recently identified Geely, a large Chinese automaker, as their preferred bidder for their Swedish subsidiary Volvo.

Michael Dingman, the former Ford board member, leads a U.S. consortium called Crown that has substantial Swedish backing. Dingman was a board member from 1981 to 2002, until he had to retire due to the mandatory retirement age requirement.

Former Volvo CEO Roger Holtback is also part of the Crown consortium.

Reports from Sweden indicate that Crown’s bid will be somewhere between $2 billion and $2.5 billion USD. Dagens Industri quoted a Crown source as commenting, “There is no point in bidding low. You are not going to win anything that way.”

Geely’s bid is also reportedly in the same range.

Due to cost-cutting measures, Volvo’s losses continue to decrease. Volvo Cars lost only $135 million USD this past quarter, compared to $458 million in the same quarter in 2008.

Some auto analysts have expressed the opinion that a sale of Volvo may mirror the previous sale of Aston Martin by Ford in that Ford may be selling a company that is now digging itself out of a sales slump, and therefore will end up as a bargain for the new owner through a matter of timing.

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Used Car Prices Take Big Jump
Nov20

Used Car Prices Take Big Jump

By Brendan Moore

11.20.2009

US Dept Labor logoThe United States Labor Department is reporting that used car prices rose 3.4% in October, the sharpest monthly increase in 29 years.

Since consumer prices as a whole have dropped during the current recession, the increase in used car prices is even more dramatic when contrasted with prices for everything else – prices for used cars continue to rise sharply while other goods go down in price.

The dynamic at work here is very straightforward; there simply are not enough used vehicles to go around.

New car sales were down in the first half of 2009, resulting in less trade-ins. The recent surge in new-car sales didn’t replenish the inventory of used cars as it usually does, since a high percentage of the trade-ins were crushed under the Cash For Clunkers program that ran in the summer months. New car sales are increasing now, but slowly, and now that used car prices are up, many consumers that would have traded in their vehicle previously are now selling their used car themselves on the open market in order to take advantage of those higher selling prices.

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GM Goes Back to the Drawing Board on Quality
Nov20

GM Goes Back to the Drawing Board on Quality

By Chris Haak

11.20.2009

GM logo smallAfter years of insisting to journalists and the general public that its vehicles had quality on par with its rivals, and that the problem was, instead, just a matter of “perception gap,” two top executives made remarkable statements today that threw all of that out the window.

GM Chairman Ed Whitacre has instructed the company’s Vice President of Global Product Engineering, Mark Reuss, to all of the roughly 200 individuals who bought and returned vehicles during GM’s 60-day money back guarantee program to get some unfiltered customer feedback.  Of approximately 200,000 GM vehicles sold during the promotion, only 653 opted for the money back guarantee in lieu of an additional $500 cash incentive.  This means, of course, that almost a third of the 653 people returned the cars that they bought between 31 and 60 days of their purchase date.  According to the company, the majority of the 200 people who returned the vehicles they bought ended up purchasing a different GM vehicle, so they weren’t necessarily lost sales.

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I Love the Opel Insignia, So Why Does the Buick Regal Rub Me the Wrong Way?
Nov19

I Love the Opel Insignia, So Why Does the Buick Regal Rub Me the Wrong Way?

By Kevin Miller

11.19.2009

2011 Buick RegalRecent news that GM will be bringing the lauded Opel Insignia to the US as a Buick Regal has been met largely with praise. Having recently traveled to Europe, I’ve seen plenty of Insignia sedan and wagon variants on the road, and, to my eyes, they look great. The Insignia is a good-looking vehicle in both sedan and wagon form, and it has been largely unadulterated in translation to Buick, with the same striking interior and body lines; only the front fascia is notably different. Slated to be available with normally-aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinder powerplants (with enthusiasts hoping for even more poweful OPC-based variants in the future), the Buick Regal will be an economical and spacious family sedan which should be more fun to drive than anything wearing Buick’s shield logo since the GNX a quarter century ago.

Of course, I had the same feeling about the Astra when it was launched as a Saturn a few years ago. I thought that the good-looking, Euro-flavored new Saturn would sell like hotcakes compared to its ugly-duckling predecessor, the Ion. Unfortunately for Saturn, the Astra never caught on has was hoped. The Astra wasn’t price-competitive because of its Made-in-Germany label, and it turned out to be a bit too European (both in design and ride) for mainstream American buyers. Saturn dealers, whose star burned so brightly in the brand’s early years, didn’t find their salvation in the Astra; and they had been eagerly anticipating their own version of the Opel Insignia, but cruel fate conspired against that eventuality, condemning the brand to the history books. Unfortunately for Saturn (and GM), Opels have never sold very well in US.

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Finally In Tune With The Times: Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueEfficiency
Nov19

Finally In Tune With The Times: Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueEfficiency

By James Wong

11.19.2009

mercedes-e250-bluetec

My old man used to own a few Benzes. There is this Asian philosophy of “bigger is always better,” so like most businessmen, he got himself an S-Class. He started off with the W126, a humongous car for the day and age, but I remembered little of it as I was just a young lad who preferred my dad get a Peugeot instead. He had to sell off his W126 because of some overheating issues but he liked it so much, he replaced it with another W126.

Following that, he got a W140, an S320 long-wheelbase model that I am most fond of. It had that stately feel in white, which also extended to the interior’s solid build. In fact, it was my favourite S-Class to date because the W220 was such a giant leap backwards for the brand that me and my dad staved off Mercedes for almost a decade. Every Mercedes after that we tried was a disappointment, so even the rather decent W221 did not manage to change our hearts.

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2010 Toyota Prius V Review
Nov19

2010 Toyota Prius V Review

By Chris Haak

11.19.2009

IMG_2365As many folks are aware by now, Toyota launched its all-new third generation Prius hybrid a few months ago as an early 2010 model. I should confess that I’ve never been a big fan of the Prius, feeling underwhelmed by the car in my first weeklong test of a 2008 model. At the time, I disliked its slab-sided styling and abysmal performance, while liking its observed fuel economy. The new 2010 Prius takes the 2004-2009 model and gives you more of almost everything: more room, more interesting styling, more technology, more performance, and more miles per gallon. The top-of-the-line model also costs – wait for it – more money.

When making the arrangements for the Prius to spend a week with me, I was given the choice between a Prius II or Prius V. For me, there wasn’t much of a decision to make; the Prius II includes cloth seats, cruise control, six-speaker audio, and smart key system. The Prius V has a JBL audio system, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, navigation, leather seats, upgraded 17 inch wheels and tires, and LED headlamps. Once I actually received my Barcelona Red test vehicle, I was pleased to see that it had all of those features, the Prius’ available Advanced Technology package. That added dynamic radar cruise control, lane keep assist, intelligent parking assist, backup camera, and XM Satellite Radio. The bottom line MSRP is $33,600 including destination – quite a bit higher than the $23,100 that a Prius II starts at with no options.

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Renault Prescribes Self-Improvement Course to Cure Lada’s Ills
Nov19

Renault Prescribes Self-Improvement Course to Cure Lada’s Ills

By Andy Bannister

11.19.2009

AvtoVaz Lada logoRenault has revealed its master plan to help save troubled Russian car maker Lada – simply improve the current product.

The French giant already has a 25% stake in Avtovaz, the company that owns the Lada brand, but is resisting calls to invest more in the Russian firm, which has been badly hit by the near-collapse in domestic car sales and the global recession.

Plans for a modern Lada range based on Renault-Nissan platforms have been shelved for now, including a five-door Focus-sized hatchback which was to have been based on the Project C concept shown last year.

Instead, according to British motoring magazine, Autocar, Renault plans to take the approach Volkswagen pioneered when it took the reins at once-ramshackle Czech car maker, Skoda.

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