Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Acura NSX reborn in America as a Hybrid

 Announcing the rebirth of the Honda NSX: one of the most iconic sports cars of the 1990s will return in 2015 as an American-built Acura with all-wheel-drive and an electric-enhanced rear engine. Here's a hybrid to get excited for.

The NSX represented the pinnacle of Honda's sports heyday of the 1980s and '90s. Launched with input from Formula One great Ayrton Senna, the NSX set a brace of technological firsts -- from its aluminum monocoque frame to the variable valve timing that would become a standard on engines worldwide. The NSX wasn't the fastest or most-powerful supercar, but reflected Honda's balance between power, weight and handling -- a sweet spot that few cars have ever achieved.
Honda mulled replacing the NSX for years with a V-10 powered successor, but the company soon embraced smaller engines and a tight focus on fuel efficiency. Somewhere along the way, it also lost a piece of the racing spirit that birthed the NSX, unleashing a string of unsuccessful to ungainly models that offered little over their competitors.
After last year's update of the Honda Civic -- a freshening that did little to improve the car's weakening position against tough competition -- Honda's executives vowed to revive the company's soul. The new NSX, to be sold under the Acura brand, shows they're serious enough to design the most attractive Acura ever.
The concept retains the mid-engine V-6 layout of the original NSX, but adds in a new Honda all-wheel-drive system that relies on electric motors to power the front wheels. As with its predecessor, Honda vows the NSX won't rely on brute force, but combine lightweight materials with high technology for supercar performance and respectable fuel economy.
If there's a disappointment here, it's that Honda has held back several key details about the NSX concept, including the power its engines and electric motors will generate. But the U.S.-based team developing the NSX for production in Ohio has three years to get it right.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top 10 Cars to Get Maximum Trade-in

 It’s never been a better time to trade in a late-model vehicle on a new one, as dealers are going all out to amass a fresh supply of used cars and replenish what’s become a severely depleted inventory. And they’re offering top dollar for them in trade, with some of the most in-demand models in excellent condition commanding 70 percent or more of their original sticker prices as three-year-old cars.

Keep in mind those numbers are for a vehicle’s trade-in value, which can be around 15-20 percent less than the amount a dealer would ultimately ask for a reconditioned used model.

While this means sky-high prices for those looking to purchase a pre-owned car, it’s a bonanza for owners of late-model cars looking to upgrade their rides. Getting more in trade for your existing car means you’ll have additional cash to use as a down payment on a new model. With interest rates at all-time lows, some owners may actually be able to whittle down their monthly car payments by trading in their existing vehicles for brand-new ones.

What’s more, the sudden run-up in trade-in/used car values could likewise be beneficial for consumers having a car coming off-lease in the coming months. Lessees can typically buy a car at the end of the contract term at a preset residual value. If that amount winds up being lower than the car’s subsequent trade-in value, it would be possible to buy the car and immediately re-sell it – perhaps even back to the original dealer – at a profit. At the least it would mean buying a good-condition used car at a below-market price.

Today’s generous trade-in values can be largely attributed to a shortage of models in the used-car market. While exact figures weren’t available, Alec Gutierrez, manager of vehicle valuation for Kelley Blue Book suggests the nation’s used-car inventory may have contracted by as much as 25 percent since 2009. This is due to depressed new-car sales and a rollback in leasing that followed the economic collapse in late 2008, along with automakers dialing down their sales to rental-car fleets, all of which diminished the number of used models returning to dealers’ lots. In addition, 677,000 used cars – albeit older and less-desirable models – were taken out of the market by the so-called “cash for clunkers” program in 2009.

In strict accordance with the laws of and demand, this has enabled the average value of a one- to three-year-old vehicle to skyrocket from $15,000 in 2008 to more than $23,000 in 2011, according to Kelley Blue Book. That’s an increase of nearly 16 percent per year for what is otherwise a depreciating asset.

Dealers are willing – and eager – to pay whatever it takes to replenish their stock of late-model used cars for the same reason legendary criminal Willie Sutton said he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is.” Used cars are historically a more reliable source of profits for most dealers than new models. Dealerships that handle both new and used cars made an average net profit of $252 in 2010, while they actually realized a loss of $180 for each new model sold, according to data compiled by the National Automobile Dealers Association.

It’s certainly worth your time to check the current trade-in value of your car via one of the Internet’s valuation sites, like NADA Guides or Kelley Blue Book and consider whether it’s time to cash in on the equity.

We did just that, beginning with a long list of model-year 2008 cars and trucks that Automotive Lease Guide initially predicted would retain above average residual values after three years of ownership. We then consulted NADA Guides to determine their current estimated resale values for the Chicago area, assuming for the sake of argument, that each model was considered a “clean” trade-in (meaning no mechanical defects, only minor wear and tear and a clear title) with 46,500 miles on the odometer. We went back and checked their original MSRPs (manufacturer’s suggested retail prices) as published in the Consumers Digest 2008 New-Car and Truck Buyers’ Guide to determine the percentages of value each retained. Though trade-in values from other sources and for other locations we otherwise checked varied a bit (and dealers may in practice offer more or less for a given vehicle on a given day), according to NADA Guides all of the models in our top 10 list are estimated to return at least 70 percent of their original sticker prices as of mid-January 2012.

We checked current trade-in values for both base models and higher trim levels in each model line to see which fared better. For the most part, we found that minimally equipped versions tend to retain their value slightly better than fully loaded models, which in large part results from a higher price sensitivity among used-car buyers.

1. Jeep Wrangler

The original SUV traditionally commands among the highest resale values in the industry, particularly in relatively unadorned versions that off-road enthusiasts covet to customize with aftermarket add-ons. A model-year 2008 two-door Wrangler having clocked 46,500 miles in top condition is estimated to return a whopping 90 percent of its original retail price in trade-in value. The four-door Wrangler Unlimited version fares slightly better, holding onto 91 percent of its MSRP according to NADA Guides. By comparison the off-road ready Rubicon versions – which can be too rough for casual owners – retain 77 and 84 percent of their original sticker prices.

2. Mini Cooper

While the diminutive MINI Cooper isn’t for everyone, it’s a blast to drive and is particularly popular among young urban professionals for whom attributes like back seat room and cargo space are secondary considerations. The trade-in value for a base model-year 2008 Cooper in good shape and with 46,500 miles on the odometer is estimated at 77 percent of its original MSRP, says NADA Guides.

3. Toyota Tacoma

The demand for brand-new small pickup trucks may be shrinking, yet the compact Tacoma still commands top dollar as a trade-in. The base four-cylinder standard-cab model from 2008 fares well enough at 72 percent of its original sticker price, but those owning the more practical V-6-powered four-door DoubleCab could be offered as much as 87 percent of its original price in trade on a new model.

4. Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Though we often deride the boxy military-derived uber-luxury G-Class SUV as looking like the postal vehicle for some posh gated community, NADA Guides says it holds onto its trade-in value better than any other Mercedes from model-year 2008 at 78 percent of its original MSRP.

5. Honda CR-V

NADA Guides estimates this amenable compact crossover currently commands a resale value at 77 percent of its original 2008 sticker price. Used versions are likely to be in particular demand as new-model inventories are just catching up from shortages attributed to last spring’stsunami and earthquake in Japan.

6. Toyota 4Runner

Mainstream new-car buyers may have shunned traditional truck-basedSUVs in recent years because of high gas prices, yet there’s still a market among outdoor adventurers for go-anywhere vehicles that can also tow a boat or trailer. A shortage of used models means the model-year 2008 SR5 version of Toyota’s 4Runner can be expected to command as much as 74 percent of its original sticker price as a trade-in, with the top V-8-powered Limited version lagging behind only slightly at 70 percent.

7. Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Speed never goes out of style, with the pavement-burning top V8-powered model in the venerable Mustang line from 2008 estimated to return 73 percent of its original sticker price in trade-in value. By comparison, the 2008 GT model can be expected to hold 67 percent of its original cost in trade, with the more-passive V-6 base version worth just 67 percent of its sticker price.

8. Chevrolet Silverado 1500/GMC Sierra 1500

General Motors’ offerings lead the pack among full-size trucks with substantial trade-in values from the 2008 model year. In clean condition with 46,500 miles driven, NADA Guides estimates the Silverado and Sierra’s basic regular-cab “Work Truck” versions can command an estimated 72 percent of their original sticker prices in trade.

9. Lexus GX 460

This is essentially Lexus’ upscale version of the Toyota 4Runner, for active families who prefer a posher ride as their daily drive. NADA Guides says current model-year 2008 GX470 owners can be expected to receive as much as 70 percent of what they initially paid for their vehicles in trade-in value.

10. Toyota Tundra

A highly regarded full-size pickup that sells in far less volume than any of the domestic entries, a smaller supply in the used-car market helps the 2008 vintage retain as much as an estimated 70 percent of its original cost in resale value according to NADA Guides.

Source: Autos

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kia's First EV Recharges In 25 Minutes

 KIA HAS unveiled an electric car that combines a range of up to 86 miles per charge with a recharge time of just 25 minutes – but for now it’s just for the Korean government.
2012 Kia Ray EV
 The Ray EV is a cute little five-door supermini, but the 1.0-litre petrol engine in the car already on sale in Korea has been replaced by a 50kw electric motor and a reasonable supply of batteries.

Despite these differences it can share a production line with the other small cars currently being pumped out of Kia’s Korean facilities, making it cheaper to produce than it otherwise might be.

It’s also faster than the petrol model, taking a mere 15.9 seconds to hit 62mph, although such frivolous use of the accelerator pedal will dent the potential range. Recharging times are six hours from a 220v domestic supply, or 25 minutes in fast-charge mode.
2012 Kia Ray EV
  An initial run of 2,500 units will be built for unspecified government departments in the country, with a view to gaining enough feedback to then refine and improve the technology before launching it worldwide.

According to Kia, Japan and the USA are already considering the introduction of a legal requirement for electric vehicles (EVs) to have a virtual engine sound, and Kia has taken steps to commercialise this system.

When driven at speeds below 20 kph (12 mph), VESS (Virtual Engine Sound System) delivers a mixture of recorded gasoline engine noises, which are also emitted whenever the car is backing up.

Customers in Europe can expect to see similar technologies within the next 10 years.

Source: Autos UK

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mercedes F125 concept

Mercedes F125 concept
 Its name features an italicised exclamation mark. It has gullwing doors. The sat-nav works via a series of "intuitive hand gestures". It is, of course, a concept car. But rumblings around camp Mercedes suggest that there's a tad more to the F125 - built to celebrate the manufacturer's 125th anniversary - than a look-at-me show queen.

It's a hybrid. But instead of the usual petro/electro mix, thrust comes from a high-voltage lightweight lithium-sulphur battery and F-Cell hydrogen-powered motor. And as Mr. James May opined after driving the Honda Clarity, hydrogen is the future. Or at least could be.
It's also one of few luxobarge concepts to align itself with emission-free motoring. And because it's not designed as a fiddly little urban runaround, it has a range of 1000km, seating for four actual humans - though the rear bench looks more like a 31st century chaise longue - and air suspension (the first electric car with air-ride, no less). Which sounds useful.

But will any of this reach production? Possibly. But not for a while. Head of Mercedes-Benz cars, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, explained how hydrogen's a big part of the firm's future, claiming that MB's currently working with legislators to build an infrastructure able to support vehicles of its ilk.

Zetsche says: "Hydrogen contains more energy per weight as any other fuel. The technology's there, but we need the service stations. It's the chicken-egg problem and to support hydrogen there must be a paradigm change... But if we offer these new, alternative technologies, I don't see why hydrogen couldn't be the answer for us."And there is also word that the exterior is not just for show: parts of the design are mooted to turn up in the new 2013 S-class.
Reckon Mercedes will lead the hydro-charge, TopGear.commrades?
Source: Topgear

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Luxury Cars in New Year 2012

 As 2011 comes to an end with the pace of auto sales accelerating, it make sense to expect the trend will continue next year.
2012 BMW 3 Series

Additionally, it seems likely that that new products, led by the BMW 3 Series and 2013 versions of the Ford Fusion andChevrolet Malibu, will lure buyers in their segments, and also that 2012's biggest auto industry stories could include fulfillment of Volkswagen's promise to grow its U.S. market share.

"Volkswagen is one of the largest [automakers] in the world, yet what they sell in the U.S. is peanuts," says market analyst Jesse ToprakVolkswagen's U.S. focus was underscored by the opening of aChattanooga, Tenn., plant in May.

Automakers aren't quite ready to issue 2012 sales forecast, but Toprak expects 2012 light vehicle sales of 13.8 million units, up from about 12.8 million in 2011. "The fundamental consumer demand has improved this year and will continue to improve further in 2012," Toprak says. "The myth of pent-up demand has turned out to be at least partially true: Consumers at some point need to get a new car."

Widespread projections of continued economic growth, albeit slow growth, combined with a surge in sales in the current quarter, buttress expectations for continued growth in 2012 sales.

Among new products, the most important 2012 introduction could well the BMW 3-Series, debuting next month at the Detroit Auto Show, with a market launch in February. "The 3-Series has generated a lot of buzz," says Ed Loh, editor-in-chief of Motor Trend. "This is the bread and butter luxury segment, and I think it will see growth in 2012."

Loh says GM will seek to challenge BMW's segment dominance with the 2013 Cadillac ATS, which is slated to make its world premier at the Detroit show. Production will begin next summer in Lansing, Mich.

"ATS is a crucial part of Cadillac's expansion," Mary Barra, GM senior vice president of global product development, recently told the Automotive Press Association. "ATS enters the biggest market segment in the global luxury car industry, both in terms of volume and importance."

The segment is dominated by German cars including the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4, Barra acknowledged, but: "We've developed a compelling and convincing new challenger."

2013 Lexus GS 350
Sales of Toyota's luxury Lexus GS are also slated to begin early in 2012. "The Lexus GS is coming at a time that is very critical to Lexus, which has been accused of losing its way and making boring cars aiming at the suburbs," Loh says. Toyota President Akio Toyoda "has said 'We need to make more exciting cars,'" Loh notes.

In the midsized category, sales of the 2013 Malibu will begin in the first quarter, while Ford will unveil its 2013 Fusion in Detroit. "The new Fusion will be big news," Loh says. "There's a lot of competition in the midsized market. Ford will take on Camry and Accord and also there is worry about the Sonata." The new Fusion will likely come to market late in 2012, he says.

GM has intros in several sectors. The new Silveradois expected later this year, while the subcompact Sonic was introduced during the current quarter. "GM has its hopes riding on the Sonic," Toprak says. "The car is not a cash machine at the price point, but it will bring in people who would not give Chevy a chance before."

Those new buyers reflect not only improvement in GM's small cars, but also the problems facing Toyota, which suffered from quality issues in 2010 and from production shortages this year following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March.

"Toyota will slowly come back in 2012," Toprak says. "But the fear for Toyota is that the competition is so much better now. Five years ago, they would have emerged and claimed back all of the share they lost, because what could you have bought instead besides Honda?

"Now, you might check out Ford, GM and Hyundai," he says. "Now, you are receptive to all of them."
Source: Yahoo

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2013 Dodge Dart

 Dodge Dart Blends Alfa Romeo DNA and Dodge's Passion for Performance Resulting in a Groundbreaking Car with the Ultimate Blend of Power, Fuel Economy, Handling and Style

 The Dodge brand is back in the U.S. compact sedan segment – in a big way – as the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart will make its world debut at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan on Jan. 9, 2012
Built on a world-class architecture, Dodge Dart offers three technologically advanced, fuel-efficient and powerful engines including the 1.4L MultiAir® Turbo
Dodge delivers exceptional craftsmanship with class-leading technology and style


Dodge redefines performance in the compact car segment with an all-new, state-of-the-art four-door sedan delivering class-leading aerodynamics – the 2013 Dodge Dart.

With Alfa Romeo DNA and Dodge's passion for performance at its core, the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart is a thoroughly modern vehicle that's fuel-efficient, beautifully designed and crafted, agile and brings fun back to driving in the segment.

Similar to the Dodge Dart of the late 1960's, the 2013 Dart offers a special blend of style, performance and innovation. The Dodge brand leveraged its nearly 100-year history of passion for building high-quality, innovative vehicles that stand apart in performance and style, as well as from its partner Fiat's global compact car expertise, to develop the all-new Dodge Dart.

The all-new Dart is the first Chrysler Group vehicle based upon a Fiat architecture – adapted from the award-winning Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The Giulietta is renowned for satisfying the most demanding customers in terms of road-holding, agility and safety, with exceptional driving dynamics. The Dart leverages all of these attributes within a lengthened and widened platform delivering segment-leading levels of interior roominess.

The all-new Compact U.S. Wide (CUSW) architecture underpinning the Dart is a state-of-the-art architecture with an industry-leading 68 percent of the body composed of high-strength steel, resulting in a very strong and rigid structure. Combined with responsive steering, four-wheel independent suspension, and available 18-inch wheels, the Dart brings fun back to driving in the compact car segment.

The all-new 2013 Dart marks the Dodge brand's re-entry into the compact sedan segment, hitting the bulls-eye with a modern, unmistakable Dodge design that builds upon its performance heritage while evoking emotion, efficiency and fluidity of movement.

Eye-catching exterior proportions are set off from every angle by dynamic lines and curves, along with advanced technology, to deliver class-leading aerodynamic performance. The personality-packed front view is instantly recognizable as an all-new Dodge with its tailored split-crosshair grille, projector headlamps and fog lamps and accentuated fenders. Signature Dodge full-width LED 'racetrack' tail lamps and class-exclusive integrated dual exhaust – both inspired by Dodge Charger – accentuate the athletic and muscular stance of this dynamic and passionate new design.

The 2013 Dodge Dart will be powered by three fuel-efficient, powerful, state-of-the-art four-cylinder engines that add to Dart's fun-to-drive quotient.

Drivers can select from a new Tigershark 16-valve 2.0-liter engine, a 16-valve 1.4-liter MultiAir Intercooled Turbo engine, and a new Tigershark 16-valve 2.4-liter MultiAir four cylinder engine. These three engines, combined with three transmission choices, combine to redefine performance by providing the most diverse powertrain lineup in its class.

MultiAir technology delivers optimum combustion at any speed under all driving conditions by allowing direct and dynamic control of air intake and combustion. The result is up to a 15 percent increase in low engine rpm torque, a 7.5 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and a 10 percent reduction in C02 emissions.

The all-new Dodge Dart will be made in America, at Chrysler Group's Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Ill. The Company is in the process of investing $600 million dollars to support the production of future products, including the 2013 Dodge Dart. The investment includes the construction of a 638,000 square-foot body shop, as well as the installation of new machinery, tooling and material handling equipment. Work on the expansion began in the summer of 2010 and will be completed this year.

The all-new Dodge Dart has been engineered with great levels of refinement, craftsmanship and engaging driving dynamics. Consumers can follow for additional photos and more information about the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart.


World's Most Expensive Accident?

 An outing of luxury sportscar enthusiasts in Japan ended in an expensive freeway pileup — smashing a stunning eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini and two Mercedes likely worth more than $1 million together.

 Police say they believe the accident Sunday was touched off when the driver of one of the Ferraris tried to change lanes and hit the median barrier. He spun across the freeway, and the other cars collided while trying to avoid hitting his car.
Video of the crash aired by NTV, a major national network, showed several smashed, bright red Ferraris cluttering the freeway.
Even a used Ferrari in Japan can fetch $100,000 or more, meaning the total damage may be $1 million or more.
Police declined to comment on the total amount of damage, but said some of the vehicles were beyond repair.
NTV quoted the driver of one of the tow trucks brought in to clear the scene as saying it was the most expensive crash site he had ever seen.