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Trabant Makes Comeback as Electric Vehicle Concept
Aug14

Trabant Makes Comeback as Electric Vehicle Concept

By Brendan Moore

08.14.2009

trabant-nt-electric-concept

Almost twenty years after the Berlin Wall came down, and Trabant production ceased, the car may be poised for a revival.

Over three million of the smoky, rattling two-stroke cars were produced, and when the Wall came down, it seemed to West Germans that all of those cars came across the former border at once, making the cars enduring symbols of the East German communist government to both East and West Germany.

According to German officials, there are around 50,000 Trabants (Trabis) still plying German roadways currently.

Now there is a German consortium comprised of parts maker named IndiKar, in tandem with an automobile model maker named Herpa, that has produced a concept city car that it is promoting as a “green” Trabant – an electric “new” Trabant nT.

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Ford Increases Third-Quarter Production Once Again
Aug14

Ford Increases Third-Quarter Production Once Again

By Brendan Moore

08.14.2009

ford-corporate-logo-small1Ford is increasing production, and specifically, production of the Escape and Focus, once again in order to satisfy increased demand as a result of the cash for clunkers program.

Ford has increased its overall production for the rest of the year to 495,000 units, with an increase in Focus production of 6000 units, and an increase in Escape production of 3500 units.

The production increase means that Ford will produce 18% more vehicles than last year, and up 33% from the same quarter last year, a nice success story for Ford in a tough year.

Most auto manufacturers were caught unawares by the popularity of the federal cash for clunkers program, and inventory shortages of vehicles have been reported all over the United States. Ford is a little better off than most as the result of a decision to slightly increase production months ago, before the gestation of cash for clunkers, and this second increase can only help Ford in terms of vehicle availability compared to its competitors during the rest of the cash for clunkers program. Still, many Ford dealers have reported that they are completely out of Focus and Escape inventory, with a few dealers also reporting that they are out of Fusion models as well.

“Under the Cash for Clunkers program, the Ford Escape and Focus are flying off dealer lots, and we’re doing all we can to ensure our dealers are well stocked with the fuel-efficient vehicles that customers really want,” Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas, said in a statement to reporters.

Auto analysts say that the federal program could be responsible for as many as 750,000 new-car sales among all the auto manufacturers by the time its over, and also, an unknown number of related sales that have occurred as a result of increased showroom traffic derived from cash for clunkers.

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Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 T-Jet Review
Aug13

Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 T-Jet Review

By James Wong

08.13.2009

dsc_0653I’ve always been enamored by the Alfa Romeo brand and the badge that represents it. There’s nothing quite like seeing a red and white coat of arms and serpent eating a child in a badge that is christened proudly on arguably one of the most gorgeous cars on the road. Alfa Romeo of late has unfortunately been unable to produce a car that can drive as well as it looks, as well as do justice to the evocative badge. It is lacking a hot hatch in its line-up now that the old (but still beautiful) 147 is starting to age in the face of new competition. Alfa Romeo also has had a rather typical line-up of the 2.2 inline-4 and 3.2 V6 mated to either the Selespeed or a Tiptronic gearbox in its range – at least, in the local market’s context.

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Leaf EV Gets 367 MPG, Says Nissan
Aug12

Leaf EV Gets 367 MPG, Says Nissan

By Brendan Moore

08.12.2009

nissan-leaf

Nissan, not to be outdone by GM’s claim of 230 mpg for it’s new Volt, has stated online that it’s new Leaf EV will get 367 mpg. That is approximately 60% better fuel efficiency than the Volt’s stated fuel mileage.

There does, however, seem to be an obvious problem with Nissan’s claim of fuel mileage for the Leaf. Since the Leaf is an EV, it uses only electric current to move itself, with a range of 100 miles available with the battery pack. The Volt is an EV with a supplemental gasoline-powered engine; in other words, a hybrid that uses both electricity and gasoline to power the car.

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GM Will Increase Marketing Budget in 2009 and 2010
Aug12

GM Will Increase Marketing Budget in 2009 and 2010

By Brendan Moore

08.12.2009

gm-logo-small1GM announced that it plans to significantly increase its ad spending for the rest of 2009 and all of 2010 in order to attack assumptions now held about its cars and trucks.

Specifically, GM wants to change negative perceptions about quality and fuel economy regarding their vehicles. GM, and Bob Lutz, GM’s new marketing head, feel that GM has a great story to tell about its improved lineup – a story that Lutz feels hasn’t been told effectively by recent advertising on behalf of GM.

GM spent $1.81 billion USD in 2007 in advertising, which is the last year numbers are available for; 2008 ad spending took huge hits, and 2009 dropped even more as a result of bankruptcy. GM has dropped many sport sponsorships this year, including the Buick Open, and had also declined to advertise during the upcoming Super Bowl.

No numbers or percentage increases were mentioned concerning GM’s planned increase in marketing expenditures in the next 16 months.

It is no secret that Lutz plans to run ads directly comparing GM cars to their competition, even if some competitors’ feelings get hurt in the process. The question is how those ads will be shaped.

Lutz has been deeply critical of recent GM advertising that he feels was vague and unfocused. The recent Buick ad set in a studio where a Buick commercial was being filmed came in for special criticism from Lutz. “It makes me cringe to watch,” he said. “Car ads about car ads, it seems to me are not what we should be doing.”

Lutz did say, however, that GM would keep using its current lineup of large advertising agencies that includes Leo Burnett Group and Campbell-Ewald.

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Chevrolet Volt Gets 230 MPG City Fuel Economy Rating
Aug11

Chevrolet Volt Gets 230 MPG City Fuel Economy Rating

By Chris Haak

08.11.2009

230Earlier this morning, GM finally revealed what the “230” viral marketing campaign has been all about for the past few weeks.  As many suspected, the number represents the fuel economy of the upcoming range-extended electric Chevrolet Volt – specifically, the city fuel economy.  The highway figure will be significantly lower, but still better than nearly every car on the road.

The figure is based on a new methodology developed by the EPA specifically for plug-in electric vehicles that assumes more [electric] city driving than the standard EPA fuel-economy tests.  From GM’s press release:

Under the new methodology being developed, EPA weights plug-in electric vehicles as traveling more city miles than highway miles on only electricity. The EPA methodology uses kilowatt hours per 100 miles traveled to define the electrical efficiency of plug-ins. Applying EPA’s methodology, GM expects the Volt to consume as little as 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles in city driving. At the U.S. average cost of electricity (approximately 11 cents per kWh), a typical Volt driver would pay about $2.75 for electricity to travel 100 miles, or less than 3 cents per mile.

GM had been lobbying the EPA to devise a special test for plug-in range-extended EVs that “give them credit” (my words, not GM’s) for the fact that some 70% of daily commutes are less than 40 miles roundtrip, so the Volt theoretically could use nearly zero gasoline during normal driving, so a little number crunching/playing on the EPA’s part is not surprising.

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The Cars That Killed GM:  The Oldsmobile Diesel
Aug11

The Cars That Killed GM: The Oldsmobile Diesel

As far as I know, Rudolf Diesel and Richard Milhous Nixon had little in common, other than being white guys.  But had Herr Diesel kept an enemies list like Nixon, at least one from beyond the grave, I’m certain that GM would have been at the top of the list.  No single engine did more to sully the good reputation of the diesel engine in North America than the Oldsmobile Diesel.  Nor did any single engine do more to kill GM.  The Olds division – one of the few nameplates ever to sell more than a million cars in a year in the USA – may even be among the living had it not been for the diesel that bears its name.

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2009 Toyota Matrix XRS Review
Aug10

2009 Toyota Matrix XRS Review

By Alex Kalogiannis

08.10.2009

img_5448As many of you may know, or will soon come to know in the near future, your college years are usually when one learns many harsh lessons of frugality and practicality. Mommy isn’t there to make you mash & peas and Daddy isn’t around to dole out allowance. You are left to discover how to subsist on ramen noodles and to be clothed in whatever is available to you, perhaps a free t-shirt from a student government association event that you volunteered your precious time to. This is all well and good since it’s now pretty fashionable to wear audacious freebies or live on food additives, but when it comes to choosing a sensible and affordable car, things start to look a little…beige. Not only beige in color but in attitude, style (if there is any) and appeal. Mercifully, there are a couple options out there for those who have freshly vacated the nest.

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