Archive for September, 2012

Is New Range Rover the Last of Another Era?

Is a downsized version in the works?

by on Sep.27, 2012

The 2013 Range Rover makes a splashy entrance at the Paris Motor Show.

The world is rapidly changing for automakers and nowhere is that more obvious than in the once-huge SUV segment.  Sales peaked at more than 3 million in the U.S. a decade or so back and have been sliding ever since.  Only a handful of models continue to exist in the classic, truck-based SUV segment.  But don’t think utes are going away.

Certainly not the range-topping Range Rover which is making its formal public debut at this year’s Paris Motor Show.  The flagship of the British Land Rover, the fourth-generation Range Rover nonetheless has adapted to rapidly changing market realities.  Among other things, it’s nearly a half-ton lighter than the outgoing model and by next year buyers in many markets will be able to order one with an all-new plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

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Nonetheless, Land Rover is eyeing big changes – especially in the wake of the successful launch of its Range Rover Evoque last year.  The maker’s first crossover-based model is now its biggest seller, outperforming even the most optimistic expectations for the downsized CUV.


First Look: Audi Crosslane Coupe Concept

Is it a coupe, a crossover, a convertible? Audi says all three.

by on Sep.27, 2012

The Audi Crossland Coupe Concept adopts advanced, lightweight materials like carbon fiber, a plug-in hybrid drivetrain and a slick social media system.

Spend much time with automotive planners, designers or engineers at this year’s Paris Motor Show and you’re bound to hear the words, “white space,” come up quite frequently.  In today’s hotly competitive automotive market, manufacturers are struggling to find products that carve out their own unique identity.

In some cases, makers hope to come up with all-new segments – as Chrysler did in the mid-1980s with the first modern minivan. Others want to find unique ways to combine existing products – the route Audi chose with the Crosslane Coupe Concept making its debut this week in the City of Lights.

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The Audi Crosslane Coupe Concept is, the maker explains, a blend of crossover, convertible and coupe.  And it makes use of plenty of advanced technologies, both in the basic platform, body and powertrain, as well as inside the concept’s very sophisticated interior.


September Car Sales Take Big Jump

by on Sep.27, 2012

Sales for subcompacts such as the Ford Fiesta are expected to be up 25 percent year over year for September.

Car sales have held steady during September, climbing by double digits from year ago levels. said September 2012 new light vehicle sales in the U.S. are expected to be up 10.5 percent from September 2011. The September 2012 forecast translates into a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate or SAAR  of 14.6 million new car sales, up from 13.1 million in September 2011 and up from 14.5 million in August 2012 .

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The industry average incentive spending per unit will be approximately $2,468 in September 2012, which represents an decrease of 6.7 percent from September 2011 and decrease of 1.2 percent from August 2012.


Madam, I’m Adam

Critical Opel minicar makes Paris debut, targets Fiat 500.

by on Sep.27, 2012

The new Adam Opel is one of 23 new models the maker promises over the next 4 years.

Opel had the rapt attention of its audience as it pulled the covers off the new Adam minicar to help kick off the 2012 Paris Motor Show Thursday morning.

Make that rapped attention, though it was clear by the puzzled look on the faces of most of the journalists attending the early morning preview that the fast-paced presentation by a half-dozen rap artists was a lot more difficult to follow than the usual executive speech.

No matter, the new Opel Adam is aimed at a decidedly different audience – though it could be one of the most important models to emerge from the German maker’s product development studios in a number of years.  The Adam is the first of a promised 23 vehicles the General Motors subsidiary will roll out over the next four years in its effort to turnaround years of devastating losses.

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If a first glance sparks a sense of déjà vu that’s no surprise.  The Adam is clearly aimed at such popular European microcars as the Fiat 500.  It boasts a similar, tall hatch-like shape, with a chrome accent line wrapping around the cars “greenhouse.”


Ram Heavy Duty Bulks Up

Ram's new pickup truck features upgrades that improve towing.

by on Sep.27, 2012

Ram made several improvements to its Heavy Duty line to improve towing.

Chrysler Group used the Texas State Fair to unveil the new 2013 Ram Heavy Duty line with its all-new interior, next-generation Uconnect Access, new frames and new suspension.

“To answer the needs and wants of our customers, Ram Truck has taken a big step forward in capability while improving cost of ownership and efficiency,” said Fred Diaz, President and CEO, Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico — Chrysler Group.

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“The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty allows you to push and pull more than any competitor, and the truck looks great doing it with new exterior design cues and an all-new interior featuring our latest technology,” Diaz said. The truck, which will be assembled in Mexico, will go on sales early next year.


Chrysler Deal Sidesteps Possible Strike in Canada

Canadians avoid two-tier wage system.

by on Sep.27, 2012

As part of its new contract with the CAW, Chrysler will maintain three shifts at its Windsor minivan plant.

The Canadian Auto Workers Union has reached a tentative settlement with Chrysler Canada by agreeing to a tentative contract that basically follows the pattern set during the union’s earlier negotiations with General Motors and Ford Motor Co..

The agreement, if ratified by Chrysler workers, will bring another four years of labor peace to the Canadian auto industry’s biggest carmakers and its 21,000-member unionized workforce. The CAW also can claim a measure of victory in a difficult bargaining environment, having basically preserved jobs in Canada despite having the highest labor costs in North America.

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While accepting cuts in starting wages, the CAW protected the principal that that workers will eventually grow to wage parity with veteran colleagues. New hires will start at a lower wage — $20 an hour instead of $24 — and will take 10 years instead of six to reach the top rate, currently $34. They will also receive a weaker pension plan that combines the existing defined-benefit plan with a new defined-contribution plan.


Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo’s Paris Preview

For those who didn't find the original Panamera radical enough.

by on Sep.27, 2012

Porsche gives a wagon treatment to the Panamera.

Few recent products created more of an initial controversy than the Porsche Panamera. But Porsche’s coupe-like four-door might seem positively tame after getting a first official look at the German sports car maker’s Panamera Sport Turismo Concept, which is getting a much-rumored preview at this year’s Paris Motor Show.

It may be polarizing, but the Panamera has proven to be one of the most popular models in the Porsche line-up. Could the maker hit another home run with the Sport Turismo?

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Perhaps that alternate term might help it overcome traditional resistance to wagons in the States.  No such trouble in Europe, however, where the wagon has long been one of the most popular body styles, sometimes referred to as a “shooting brake.”


Volkswagen Unveils Golf VII, GTI Concept in Paris

And BlueMotion Concept could be most fuel-efficient Golf ever.

by on Sep.27, 2012

The Volkswagen Golf GTI Concept should soon make the leap into production.

With a dozen different brands now in its fold, Volkswagen will be having a busy time during the upcoming Paris Motor Show – with such high-line products as the Porsche Panamera Shooting Brake and an updated Lamborghini Gallardo getting early previews at the German maker’s Wednesday night party.

But two decidedly more mainstream offerings drew plenty of attention from the assembled media, including the all-new, seventh-generation VW Golf and the Golf GTI Concept that will be seen by the public for the first time during the 2012 Paris Motor Show.

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The German maker describes the GTI prototype as a “near-production concept,” a practice that it first used to get a final test of consumer sentiment with the previous-generation GTI back in 2008.

While specific details have yet to be released, the maker has hinted the new GTI will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged TFSI engine making 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.  Look for 0 to 100 kph (0 to 62.5 mph) time of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 152 mph.


Jaguar Will Price New F-Type Between Porsche’s Boxster and 911

All-wheel-drive, even higher performance versions likely to follow – but forget diesel.

by on Sep.26, 2012

Jaguar reveals what could be its most important new model in six decades, the F-Type.

Only the Brits would come to Paris to unveil a new convertible in the pouring rain. But Jaguar is hoping that the soggy send-off for the new F-Type sports car won’t dampen the reception for the long-awaited “spiritual successor” to the legendary Jaguar E-Type.

The new F-Type will get its official debut on Thursday, during the opening press day of the 2012 Paris Motor Show.  The maker offered relatively few details about the new sports car during the Wednesday sneak peek, but has gotten an inside look at Jaguar’s ambitious plans – which include a range of additional F-Type variants that will come to market during the new model’s likely 6- to 8-year lifecycle.

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Among other things, expect to see even more powerful versions of the Jaguar F-Type than the 495-horsepower supercharged V-8 that will reach showrooms early next year.  An all-wheel-drive model may very well be in the works, learned, though a diesel model is not in the cards.

Meanwhile, Jaguar hopes to capture as much as 10% of the global sports car market, Andy Goss, CEO of Jaguar-Land Rover North America revealed, in part by pricing the new F-Type between the Porsche Boxster and 911 models.


Paris Auto Show Preview

Automakers descend on France for two weeks of auto show fun.

by on Sep.26, 2012

Paris may be known for its fantastic food, delightful wine and beautiful sights but for two weeks beginning Saturday, cars will rule.

That’s because the biannual Mondial de l’Automobile 2012 – better known as the Paris Auto Show on this side of the pond – takes center stage for the world’s automakers.

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This year’s show will continue the recent trend of introductions of smaller cars and concepts featuring alternative powertrains.

Make sure you check in often in the next few days as’s Paul Eisenstein reports from Paris on all that is happening at the show and continue below for a preview of what is expected from the show this week.