MINI Cooper F1 Edition To Appear At MINI United

According to internet reports, BMW's Mini brand plans to launch a new Special Edition Cooper F1 Edition To Appear At MINI United.
According to MotoringFile, Mini is preparing to launch a special edition F1 Cooper at the event.
To appear in non-metallic British Racing Green, the MINI would coincide with the creation of John Cooper’s first ever Formula 1 car.
It’s not just a coat of paint either, with black racing stripes, a white roof and mirrors, a JCW aero-kit, and a host of special F1 badges added to complete the look.
Unfortunately, there’s no word on any mechanical revisions, so expect the same engine as seen in the JCW Mini Cooper S.
Still, with over 150kW (200hp) and 264Nm (192lb-ft) of torque, the MINI isn’t exactly a slouch. Just don’t go taking those badges too seriously.
Unfortunately, only 50 to 100 units of the F1 Edition MINI are expected to be produced, so don’t expect to see it ‘downunder’.

Small Car of Toyota may sport Rs 5-7 lakh

Toyota Motor, the world’s biggest car manufacture
by volumes, also plans to jack up its production to 5,000 units a month by July, and double sales and servicing manpower by 2010.

“The compact car will be priced in the B+ category,” said Sandeep Singh, deputy MD, revealing details of the much-awaited car for the first time. This category has cars, such as Maruti Swift, the Skoda Fabia and the Chevy UVA.
The pricing of these cars is between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 7 lakh. This means that the compact car will be priced between a Santro top-end variant and a Honda City entry variant. The model will be launched in both sedan and hatchback versions. Around 70,000 units of the so-called compact vehicle
will be produced at its Rs 3,200-crore factory at Bidadi in Bangalore.

The compact car will have a localisation of 65% to start with, and will gradually be taken to 90% by 2011, said Shekar Viswanathan, deputy MD (Commercial). That would make it one of the few foreign models with the highest percentage of local components. The Innova, which sold 3,900 units in March, and the Corolla have a localisation of 65% and 45%, respectively.

“We are looking to have 75% local components for the Innova and around 50% for the Corolla by next year,” said Mr Viswanathan.

Higher localisation for the small car has made the company actively consider a new powertrain facility by the end of 2010. Still in the planning stages, the facility will be dedicated to producing engines and gearboxes for the compact car.

The company is looking at expanding dealer network from the current 82 to 150 by 2010-end, said Mr Singh. “With the compact car, we want to be in semi-rural and rural towns,” he said.

By the end of this year, the number of dealerships will be around 95. With the rise in dealerships will come new hires, which will double the sales and servicing teams from the existing 2,800 people. The company, which had cut production in the first quarter, saw a 20% shortfall in supply for its models in March.

This has led to a revision in sales targets, and now the company will be making 5,000 units from July, a rise of 35% from its current level.

This figure includes both, the Innova, and the Corolla. “We aim to sell 50,000 units of these cars this year,” said Mr Singh. The company is banking on the post-monsoon festive season for a turnaround in the automotive market.

But, imports and the depreciation in the rupee are casting a shadow in its efforts to cut costs. The Japanese currency has appreciated 33% against the rupee since October last year, making imports from that country much more expensive in India, and thus increasing costs of production here.

Toyota Kirloskar also imports parts from Thailand, paid for in the US currency, which has appreciated 21.6% since August. The company imports 30% of parts by value for its Innova utility vehicle and 55% for the Corolla Altis car.

“That is another reason to go for higher localisation,” said Mr Viswanathan, adding that a review is currently underway for further cost cutting. “But, that will not affect the existing plans for the small car,” he clarified.

Subaru Legacy Wagon (JDM) Images Appear in Magazine

Japan's Car Mode magazine is featuring a full-blown scoop picture of the upcoming Subaru Legacy Wagon. Subaru Japan is due to launch the JDM (Japanese Domestic Model) 2010 Legacy on May 20th. A teaser picture of the wagon recently appeared and showed one side of the vehicle from a poor angle.

Same vehicle as the Outback model unveiled at the New York Auto Show earlier this month, the Legacy Wagon differentiates itself by losing the raised ride height and flat black off-road body paneling. Instead, a more conventional family wagon with sporty touches defines the Legacy. There are currently no plans to offer the Wagon in the US but European customers are scheduled to receive the model.

Engines for the JDM Legacy are unclear at this point. But the US car will come fitted with a 2.4-litre with 170hp (125kW) and 230Nm of torque at the bottom end. There will be a 2.5 GT turbo worth 265hp (195kW) and 350Nm of torque and a new 3.6-litre replacing the old 3.0-litre. The 3.6-litre puts out 188kW and 335Nm.

High-performance STI versions of the Legacy sedan and Wagon have been rumoured.

Honda pondering plug-in hybrid as response to U.S. policy changes?

Honda Motor Co., the only company selling hydrogen-powered cars to U.S. drivers, may also develop plug-in electric models as U.S. policy shifts to favor battery- powered autos.
Honda, which began leasing hydrogen fuel cell FCX Clarity sedans in Los Angeles last year, still sees hydrogen as the best long-term alternative to gasoline as a fuel that can cut carbon exhaust tied to global warming, President Takeo Fukui said in an interview. Still, the company will respond to a push by the Obama administration for carmakers to sell plug-ins, he said.
“We understand the situation, in terms of government and incentives,” Fukui said April 23 in Detroit. “Naturally, we’re going to have to accommodate that too.”
We are thinking about plug-in hybrids, but we aren't thinking about commercializing one right away." This is what Honda's President Takeo Fukui said in a recent interview. The automaker, which is leasing hydrogen cars in the U. S. and Japan, thinks of hydrogen as the long-term solution, but competitors and new automotive policies coming out of the White House are forcing the Japanese marque to rethink its policy. The new regulations might be the most important for Honda, because the Obama presidency has yet to say something big about hydrogen cars but speaks about tax breaks for plug-in hybrids and $25 billion in low-cost federal loans for production of advanced technology vehicles. Honda already has a joint-venture to produce batteries, albeit designated for hybrid use, that could be used to produce PHEVs in the future,

Hydrogen may have a future, but the view seems to be that batteries are what we can do reasonably soon,” Becker said.
Automakers must plan for an eventual tightening of global oil supplies and pressure to cut greenhouse gases, Fukui said.
“Oil prices are going to go up. When that time comes, fuel cells, solar panels, hydrogen, those will be the key words,” Fukui said. “We will have packages that will be very competitive at that time.”

Audi Launched New A6 Sedan in India

German car giant Audi has launched its executive car Audi A6 in India. It is an executive car produced by the German automaker Audi. It is available in saloon/sedan and Avant body styles. The second and third generation A6 were also used as the basis for the Audi allroad quattro and A6 allroad quattro models respectively.
Audi's mid-size car was named the Audi 100 (or Audi 5000 in the United States) and was released in three successive generations (C1, C2 and C3). In 1994, the latest generation (C4) of the Audi 100 was facelifted and re-badged as the A6, to fit in with Audi's new alphanumeric nomenclature (as the full-size A8 had just been introduced).

The exterior was changed only slightly from the "C4" Audi 100 - new front and back lights, new radiator grid, similarly with chassis and engine and transmission choices. The UK was the first market to receive the A6, as stock of right-hand-drive Audi 100s had run out before expected, and before the rest of Europe.

The new engines for the A6 were 1.8 20V I4, 2.8 30V, 1.9 TDI I4, and the 2.5 TDI I5 (140 PS), with the 2.3L I5 engine being dropped on most markets. The S6's 4.2 V8 engine was uprated to 290 PS (286 hp/213 kW) and a new 326 PS (322 hp/240 kW) version was added (S6+ made by quattro GmbH).

Last month the auto giant had announced to launch Q5 in India. The new Audi Q5 ranks as top off-roader among the best new vehicle releases of the model year 2009.
The new A6 is priced at Rs. 38.57 lakhs (ex-showroom Mumbai). It is available in a wide range of 6 colours Aventurin Blue, Dakar Beige, Ice Silver and Oyster Grey, besides the successful Phantom Black and Ibis White.

Honda is launching premium hatchback Jazz in June at Rs 5.5 lakh

After a decade long operations in India, the largest player in the mid-size cars, Honda Siel Cars (HSCI) is entering the high volume hatchback category with its small car Jazz, a top company executive said. The car will have a new 1.2 litre engine developed exclusively for the Indian market, carrying highest fuel efficiency in its segment.

Jazz also called Fit in certain markets, is the only small car in Honda's global portfolio. To be launched in India in the month of June, Jazz is likely to be the most expensive petrol hatchback in the market with an expected base price of Rs 5.5 lakh. It will be pitted against Skoda's Fabia, Tata Motors' Indigo, Ford Fusion and Hyundai's Accent besides Ritz the upcoming product from Maruti's stable.

Speaking to ET, HSCI managing director & CEO Masahiro Takedagawa said, "Jazz will have all the features found in a premium large car. Our survey shows that 80% hatchback customers feel that these cars lack legroom and headroom space which we have addressed in Jazz."

He added, "We have designed a special engine for India to optimise fuel efficiency and power, which delayed the launch by one year. Jazz also comes strapped with a toughened suspension to meet stiff roads conditions in India."

The car is based on Honda's City platform and will have a high 70% localisation. Jazz is likely to endorse Honda pioneered V-Tec technology for high fuel efficiency, which is already used in the Honda City engine. Jazz will also qualify for the concessional 8% excise duty under government's small car definition.
"We will try to pass the benefit of lower excise duty on Jazz but 30% of its components are imported and the weak rupee may lead to a higher price," Mr Takedagawa said. He however added that he company is not positioning Jazz as a volume generator and its best-selling sedan City will remain the largest car for Honda in India.

Jazz will have customisation option for navigation system, in-car entertainment, sporty tyres and other gizmos at the dealer level. It will be launched with manual transmission and will be studded with an automatic transmission later.

According to sources in the automobile market, Honda could also launch a diesel variant of Jazz in the next few years. The company is targeting smaller cities and towns for the new car and plans to add 10 more dealerships in the next one year to the current tally of 106 across the country.

Fuel Type: Petrol
Engine: 1.2L i-VTEC petrol
Dimensions (LxWxH): 3855x1875x1525

Hyundai introduces the i30, its first hatchback model in China

At the Shanghai Auto Show today, Beijing Hyundai Motor Co. unveils three new models which will add fresh momentum to Hyundai’s growth in China. BT01 ,Equus and i30
Hyundai i30

Hyundai brings its first ever hatchback and European flair to the Chinese market with the i30, which was styled at the company’s European Design Center in Russelsheim Germany. The five-door hatchback taps into China’s diversifying car demand as consumers shift away from conventional four-door sedans.
The base model is equipped with the 122hp 1.6L Gamma engine, which should prove popular as a result of Chinese government tax cuts instituted earlier this year on cars with engines sized 1600cc or smaller. A 143hp 2L Beta engine is also available. All models are equipped with dual airbags and EBD/ABS as standard.
Detail about I30

Now General Motors planning new cars, expansion in India

General Motors is reportedly planning new cars and expansion in India. The company has said. Global auto giants have been given a lifeline by robust growth in car sales in February. Maruti Suzuki registered its largest ever sales in a single month, while Hyundai India Motors bettered its last performance.

In the meantime there is news that GM India is thinking over the expansion of its operations in India. As an alternative to step up the sales of General Motors cars, the company is evaluating car financing. The company is talking with some banks for enabling car financing for its models throughout India. Some of the private banks squeeze their grips on financing that has resulted in the non appearance of credit in the market.

Karl Slym, the president of GM India President says that it could be very difficult for them to predict the graph of sales for the first half of year 2009 but it is expected that the market would recover by 2009.

He goes on to say, “Our facility in Talegaon, Maharashtra, is being expanded to have an engine/powertrain plant. The target was to sell 2,500 units of Spark Muzic and 35,000 units of other Spark variants this year”.

General Motors India expect 10% of growth in car sales for the current year 2009 as well as plans to sell 72,000 units throughout the country as compared to 2008.
Mr. Karl Slym said - “The Indian economy is still in doldrums and the car market is unlikely to see full recovery this year. Last year also we grew by around 10 per cent despite the overall car market registering a drop of 2 per cent. This year we are are optimistic that our sales will grow by around 10 per cent year on year.”

Lunched New Mercedes-Benz M-Class in India

The new Mercedes M-Class offers best of both the worlds: the highest levels of luxury, comfort and on-road refinement combined with excellent off-road capabilities and best-in-class safety standards. We have maintained the same price for this product despite significant enhancements of equipment, car features and performance… thus making the best value for money offering in this segment,” mentioned Dr. Wilfried Aulbur, CEO and Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz India. The car arrives in two engine choices: the ML 320 CDI that features a high-torque diesel engine and the ML 350 that gets powered by a high output gasoline engine. The New M-Class also features the state-of-the-art 7 speed Automatic transmission (7G-TRONIC), a height adjustable air suspension (AIRMATIC), an Exterior Sports Package that comes with 19 inch alloy wheels, and is available in plush leather interior coupled with burr walnut accents. If you plan on driving this vehicle on a hilly or uneven terrain, then check out the popular feature - 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system that offers a start-off assist & a Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR).
The new vehicle also adds on a few more features to its standard set of features such as PRE-SAFE system and NECK-PRO, thanks to the Mercedes-Benz’s Integrated Safety Concept. Suitable for large families, the M-Class SUV can accommodate 5 adults comfortably and also offers ample amount of luggage space in the rear section of the vehicle.

Detail About Mercedes Benz M- class model

Base Price: ML 350 Rs. 53.77 lacs,
Mercedes ML 320 CDI Rs. 54 lacs

Body Style: SUV

Performance & Efficiency: 6,208 cc 6.2 liters V 8 front engine with 102.2 mm bore, 94.6 mm stroke, 11.3 compression ratio, double overhead cam, variable valve timing/camshaft and four valves per cylinder. Premium unleaded fuel 91.

New Mahindra Bolero Stinger launched

Mahindra & Mahindra recently presented ace Indian opener Gautam Gambhir with a Mahindra Bolero Stinger for his scintillating performance in New Zealand. While many of us know about the Mahindra Bolero, which has been India's most popular SUV for three years in a row, the Stinger, however is a customized concept which is based on the Bolero itself.

Gautam Gambhir said

I am extremely delighted to own the Mahindra Bolero Stinger and thank the team at Mahindra & Mahindra for this special gesture. With its stylish looks and power packed performance, I think the Mahindra Bolero Stinger is the perfect choice for anyone who thrives on the thrill of the open road and has an adventurous attitude. The Mahindra Bolero Stinger has everything I’ve ever wanted in an offroader and I'm really looking forward to driving the vehicle both in the city as well as on long road trips." said Gautam Gambhir while receiving the keys to the vehicle from Vivek Nayer.

About New Mahindra Bolero Stinger

Mahindra Bolero Stinger are customized body paint along with special tail lamp bezel and rear roll cage lend the Mahindra Bolero Stinger a special look. Additional features include a premium MP3 player and a reverse camera with sensors. The Mahindra Bolero Stinger concept also offers custom fit colour co-ordinated interiors, customized floor carpeting and unique leather suede upholstery giving it an exclusive touch. Under the hood
, the Stinger retains the 2.5 litre engine producing 97 PS and a prodigious 255 Nm of torque which gives the Stinger enough go to match its show.

INDIA - Maruti Is Investing Rs 1,200 Cr To Replace Engines Of Existing Models.

Maruti Suzuki, which makes every second car sold in India, is investing Rs 1,200 crore to replace engines of existing models with a

New light-weight fuel-efficient one that will conform to a new national emission standard to come in place next year.

“While all our new launches will be on the new engines, in the long term we plan to gradually replace our existing series of engines with the fuel efficient KB series engines,” said Maruti Suzuki India MD & CEO Shinzo Nakanishi.

Maruti’s popular models Alto, WagonR, Zen Estilo, Versa and Swift will be strapped with new engines by April 2010 when new Bharat Stage IV (BS IV) emissions comes into place.

These five cars account for a bulk of Maruti’s 7.22 lakh cars sold in India. The new fuel-efficient engine will also help Maruti to compete with new cars
Like Honda’s Jazz, Volkswagen’s Polo and Fiat’s Grande Punto which will be launched in the domestic market soon.

Maruti’s small car A-Star is BS IV complaint as it is exported to Europe, while Korean car maker Hyundai’s cars such as Santro, i10, i20, made in India are already BS IV compliant. Santro came strapped with the new engine when Hyundai relaunched it as Santro Xing.

The all-aluminum 1.0 liter engine may replace the current line of F-series engines fitted in the Alto, while the bigger 1.2 liter engine is likely to power the WagonR and Zen Estilo. This new engine may also power the Swift and the Versa in the near future, currently running on the G13 series. The installation of new engines could also see prices of these select models going up.

“We are working on different combinations. We will continue to have both F and KB series engines on different vehicles meeting the emission regulatory requirements. The KB series engines are highly fuel efficient and carry a higher cost then the current series of engines,” MSI executive officer (R&D) IV Rao said.

The company will not change its popular multihued diesel engine in Swift and DZire and the M-series engine in SX4 as both are capable of meeting BS IV emission norms.

The company has a staggered implementation plan to load the engines in different cars to meet the April 2010 emission norms deadline.

MTM adopts Porsche GT3 green for latest force-fed Audi R8R

German tuning firm MTM has announced a new individualization program for the Audi R8 that gives the everyday supercar a unique look and a healthy dose of added performance. To give their version of the car an exclusive appearance, MTM paints the R8's exterior "Porsche 2D8" green which is the same color that is used on the Porsche GT3 RS. The car rides on a special set of glossy-black ultra-light MTM Bimoto alloy wheels, which measure 9x20 and 11x20, and come with green badging that declares "MTM forged." Elsewhere the green theme continues as the black brake calipers and fuel cap receive a discrete green "R8" logo.

Being true to their tuner roots, MTM offers added performance from both of the R8's engines. The standard R8's 4.2-liter V8 gains a modified compression system which ups the engine's output from 420 hp (313 kW) and 430 Nm of torque to 560 hp (418 kW) and 580 Nm of torque. For the V10 engine, MTM installs new engine electronics which boosts the car's horsepower rating from 520 hp (388 kW) to 560 hp (418 kW). Other performance minded modifications include a new exhaust system and redesigned side-blades that increase airflow to the engine.

To maximize the usefulness of this added performance, MTM equips their R8's with an extensive aerodynamic carbon fiber body kit that includes a front splitter, new side skirts, and a rear diffuser. In a nod to practicality, the MTM R8 also features a Lift-up-System which can raise the axles by 40 millimeters to prevent bottoming out when entering parking garages or going over speed bumps.

Mercedes says it has no plans for new CLK63 AMG

Mercedes will not produce a CLK63 AMG -- which would actually be an E Class Coupe AMG. The axing is due to the CLK moving from the C Class platform to the E Class, and Mercedes' view that a hotted up E Coupe with the 6.3-liter would be too close to the CLS 63 AMG "both in positioning and price."

Good news is that one model in the 2011 CLS range which has been spied on a number of occasions, will sport an AMG badge. A possible power source for that car is not the existing 6.3-litre V8 (6208 cc) but a brand new engine. WCF sources at Mercedes-Benz have hinted to a 4.0-litre-plus twin turbo V8 said to produce about 400kW (544hp).

Toyota suffers fresh losses

Tokyo, April 12. The Japanese car manufacturer Toyota Motor headed this year by the global recession and the strong yen on the half-year loss in a row.

The operating loss in the 2009/2010 financial year in April begun broken can reach more than 500 billion yen (3.8 billion euros). Reported that the Japanese business newspaper Nikkei Sunday.

In the previous financial year that ended March, according to the newspaper Toyota suffered an operational loss of about 500 billion yen from a previously forecast loss of 450 billion yen. This is the first loss in the company's existence.

The recession, the strong sales of Toyota under pressure. Also, the company has experienced the strong yen. The car of Toyota, this year is expected to approximately 6.5 million. It would for the first time in six years that Toyota less than 7 million cars.

Maruti Ritz to be Placed as Premium Hatchback

The new Maruti Ritz is ready to be launched in the Indian market with its 1197cc engine. The car will be positioned at the upend end of the small car segment. "The Ritz will be yet another compact car to join the company's A2 offering that includes Alto, Zen Estilo, A-star, Wagon R and Swift. The Ritz is in advanced stage of preparation for a formal launch shortly," the company said in a statement.

The car will powered by the new K12M BSIV compliant engine. This will be the first time in India that a passenger car will be powered by the BS-IV compliant engine. It will be second aluminum engine in the Kseries and retains the technological superiority and fuel efficiency of the K10B engine which powers.

"K12M engine is another example of Maruti Suzuki's commitment to take engine technology in India to the next level," Maruti Suzuki Managing Director and CEO Shinzo Nakanishi said. The new Ritz will be also come with a 1.3 liter diesel engine.

Specs (Speculated)
Car Segment: Small Car, Premium Hatchback (B+ segment)
Fuel Type: Petrol/Diesel
Engine: 1.2L Petrol/ 1.3L Diesel
Max Power/Torque: Petrol - 85bhp/114Nm, Diesel – 75bhp/190Nm
Dimensions in mm (LxWxH): 3720x1780x1650

Mercedes S-class facelift and S400 Hybrid unveiled

Some cars dominate their segments – and Mercedes’ S-class is one such car. It’s the essence of what a pampering luxury saloon should stand for, becoming the default four-door of choice for boardroom bigwigs around the globe. Now Merc hopes to cement the S-class’s credentials with this 2009 facelift.

The W221 S-class is being revised with a range of new engines – including a frugal lithium-ion battery hybrid and BlueEfficiency diesels – a slew of new tech and the gentlest of visual makeovers. Blink and you will indeed miss it.

So what’s new on the ‘new’ S-class?

Let’s cover off the engines first of all. Take your pick from five petrols, a single diesel and the new hybrid – claimed to be the world’ most economical petrol-engined luxury saloon and the first production hybrid car with a lithium-ion battery:

• S350, 268bhp 3.5-litre V6
• S500, 383bhp 5.5-litre V8
• S600, 510bhp 5.5-litre twin-turbo V12
• S63 AMG, 518bhp 6.2-litre V8
• S65 AMG, 604bhp 6.0-litre V12
• S350 CDI BlueEfficiency, 232bhp V6 TD
• S400 Hybrid, 275bhp 3.5-litre V6 petrol

Sadly, we won’t get the 35.7mpg/186g/km CO2 hybrid in the UK, so the diesel is destined to be the big seller. It noshes a gallon of black stuff every 37.2 miles and emits 199g/km of CO2. The crucial figures are too close to warrant the additional cost and low volumes for right-hand drive, you see…

As ever, the BlueEfficiency badge means the S350 CDI diesel’s been to Merc’s drying out clinic. Clever underbody panels improve the aero while the seven-speed auto decouples at standstill to save carve vital percentage points off the consumption figures.

I bet the S-class sports a flood to gadgets?

Oh yes. You’ll bag headlamps that flick between main and dipped beam for you (saving valuable digitwork), drowsiness detection systems and a gizmo in the stability system that corrects crosswind movements for you. Much of the tech has already been seen on the new 2009 Merc E-class, which goes on UK sale in June 2009.

Further gadgets include the latest night vision system, which now highlights pedestrians in the display, lane-keep assist and improvements to other existing systems. Pre-Safe Brake, for instance, now preps the anchors even earlier before a potential accident, reducing impact speed.

There’s also a potential row brewing over who has launched split-view multimedia systems; Land Rover claims the new 2010 Range Rover (unveiled last week) will be first to market, but Merc is making the same claim. Forget the playground rivalry; it’s a clever system that lets the driver read the sat-nav while a passenger can watch a movie. We’ve seen test systems and it works rather well.
Gizmos galore… But how do I spot the new S-class?

That grille is a smidgeon more ‘arrow-shaped’ – apparently – while the front bumper now sports a chrome strip beneath the air intakes and bi-xenon headlamps are now standard across the board. Mosey around to the rear and look out for exhausts integrated into the back bumper.

Proving that we’re all about to be increasingly being dazzled by science, LED daytime running lamps are standard on the new 2009 S-class. The rear lamps are powered by 52 LEDs, marking out a double-C signature.

The facelifted S-class goes on sale in the UK in autumn 2009. With fluctuating exchange rates and business meltdown, nobody’s pricing their cars early these days, but we expect the new S to start at just under £60k.

Mazda plans to boost fuel efficiency 30 percent, add hybrids and EVs by 2015

In a mild role-reversal of sorts, Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi has said that his company will in fact venture into electric vehicles and hybrids, but not until 2015. In the meantime, the Japanese automaker will focus on incremental improvements in the efficiency of gasoline and diesel engines and strive for an overall weight reduction in all of its vehicles with the goal of increasing fuel efficiency 30 percent by 2015.

The upcoming Tokyo Motor Show is expected to serve as a showcase for new engine technology from Mazda. According to Yamanouchi, "Our new gasoline engines will achieve the same fuel economy as current diesel engines, and our diesel engines will achieve similar fuel economy as existing hybrids."

Taking this incremental approach will allow Mazda "to offer affordable eco-friendly vehicles to 90 percent of the car-buying public, not to just a limited segment of the market." Expect to see stop/start, improved aerodynamics and low rolling-resistance tires added to the aforementioned weight reduction combined to create relatively low-cost eco-friendly vehicles.

2010 Mercedes S63 AMG & S65 AMG

For some drivers, it's not enough to arrive in a 600-horsepower luxury sedan, they've got to make sure that everyone knows it's a 600-horsepower luxury sedan. For these buyers, the facelifted 2010 Mercedes S63 AMG and S65 AMG are good news. As the flagship sedan has gotten updated for the new year, so has the high-performance version. Details have been leaked by Mercedes' German online configuration website, which has images of the S63 AMG and S65 AMG ahead of the car's official Shanghai Auto Show reveal.

The new S-Class AMG models are more distinguished from the standard S-Class, with a larger front air intake below the bumper. The round foglights have been replaced by strips of LED lighting. There are LED taillights as well. The S63 AMG and S65 AMG get individual grilles to distinguish them--though, if you're good, you'll be able to tell them apart by the size of the quad exhaust outlets.

Power remains impressive, with the S63 AMG's 6.2 liter V8 putting out 518 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. AMG's seven-speed automatic transmission is used. The S65 AMG is the "Big Daddy" of the Mercedes sedan family, with a twin-turbo 6.0 V12 that's got 604 horses on tap. The S65's 738 lb-ft. torque rating requires a five-speed automatic to handle the torque, and offers more grunt than the competition from BMW. Mercedes' ESP stability control does its best to keep these super-sedans docile, though sometimes it's a losing battle.

The new S Class, with hybrid versions in June

Mercedes is unstoppable in recent months. In March it launched its new E-Class loaded with technology in May is scheduled arrival of the new E-Class Coupé which will replace the CLK and only months later, in June launched an evolution of its Class S.

The new saloon representation incorporates many changes, the incorporation of new technologies and brought in the E Class but provides the first hybrid model from Mercedes to the general public. Under the name Hybrid S400 comes first model that incorporates a gasoline engine and electric to operate package. In addition, this vehicle is the first production car that uses lithium-ion batteries.

The S Class has always been the reference of the luxury saloons. Mercedes launched in 1951 its 220 model as the precursor of the Class S and since then have been sold around the world more than 3.3 million units of the successive generations of the model.

The new S Class, presented at the Hall of New York, incorporating a wide range of engine. Two of them Diesel cycle, corresponding to 350 CDi Bluefficiency with over 235 hp and 450 CDi eight cylinders in V with 320 horses.

In the section of the gasoline version of access is 350, 272 hp, with power passing through the 340's 450 hp, 388 of the 500 or 600 with 517 hp twelve-cylinder engine in V And of course the AMG versions, which in this case are two: 63 AMG 525 hp and above as the top model with 612 hp S65 AMG.

While undoubtedly the most innovative is the S400 Hybrid. This model features a gasoline engine 6-cylinder modified for this version that provides 279 hp. This engine incorporates the stop & start technology and various adjustments in its operation so that the change 7-Gtronic specifically suited to hybrid operation. In addition, the vehicle features a 20 hp electric motor. As a result we get a very efficient vehicle in its fuel consumption of 7.9 liters as approved securities.

The electric motor is located between the gasoline engine and the change it is called parallel hybrids. Motor driven by electricity that serves to provide a further impetus to the vehicle when the driver steps on the accelerator with power but also to deal with the gasoline engine to start quickly and smoothly once it is stopped at a traffic light. At the same time also serves to recharge the batteries of the vehicle. These are Li-Ion, the latest technology in this type, which makes batteries that Mercedes is the first production car to use. The batteries are of a size and ultra placed himself in vain engine.

In addition, the new S Class is loaded with the latest technology. Elements such as automatic management for the main beams, control of speed limit signs on the roads, the new night vision system with respect to highly evolved to date includes a new feature for people detection. Also the system that warns the driver of a dangerous state of fatigue by analyzing 70 different parameters. Or Pre-Safe or notice of involuntary change lanes or so many others.

He left to the end an innovative system that was developed by Mercedes and the German company Bosch. Splitview called, allows the driver and passenger to see two different things in the same screen on the center console at the same time. Thus, while the driver sees the map of the area on which it is moving, your companion can go watch a movie, for example. The two images are both on screen and each person sees only his own. But is not that the screen is divided into two parts, it would be easy, but since each side is a different picture in full screen.
We still have no official prices for Spain, but in Germany, with these taxes range from 73,000 euros for the S350 and S65 AMG of 155,000 euros. As for the 400 Hybrid, undoubtedly the most innovative of the new S Class, its price in Germany is 85,323 euros. Sales begin in early June.

New York Auto Show: - Hyundai Nuvi Concept unveiled

It seems like every car company is showing a hybrid at the New York Auto Show, but most of them are just a hybrid version of some plain-vanilla existing model. Stuffing an engine, electric motor, and all of the batteries needed to make hybrid takes up a lot of space, so it's hard to use the technology in a car that's sleek and sexy.

The world will have the opportunity to peer into Hyundai’s future when the Nuvis concept makes its world debut at the 2009 New York International Auto Show.The Nuvis is the eleventh signature concept car to be designed at the company’s California Design Center in Irvine, Calif. In addition to showcasing the brand’s cutting-edge capabilities, Nuvis also hints at a possible design direction for a future-generation crossover, blending attributes of a tall urban car and a premium utility vehicle. Consistent with Hyundai’s pledge to lead all brands in U.S. fuel economy by 2015, Nuvis is powered by Hyundai’s Hybrid Blue Drive architecture, which uses breakthrough lithium polymer battery technology.

Hyundai’s all-new, homegrown Hybrid Blue Drive architecture helps define the Nuvis concept. Hyundai’s proprietary parallel hybrid drive system mates the already fuel-efficient 2.4-liter Theta II engine to a 6-speed automatic transmission and a 30kW (205 N-m) electric motor for maximum fuel economy. Hybrid Blue Drive has an all-electric mode and a parallel drive mode, meaning that the wheels are turned by power coming directly from the gasoline engine, or the electric motor, or both together, as conditions demand. This parallel hybrid drive architecture will serve as the foundation for future Hyundai hybrid drive vehicles, starting with the next-generation Sonata in the United States.

To maximize fuel economy, all of the Theta II’s major driveline and cooling system components have been optimized to reduce friction, while the crankcase has been filled with low friction oil.Engine management software automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a halt, cutting emissions to zero. The engine automatically restarts when pressure is reapplied to the accelerator pedal due to the Integrated Starter Generator (ISG).To further reduce fuel consumption, the Theta II’s engine management software, which governs injection pressure, engine cycle timing and exhaust retreatment rates, has been revised. This control strategy assures that maximum efficiency is achieved during gentle acceleration, while greater power is immediately available during full acceleration. During deceleration, regenerative braking also comes into play to help conserve energy.

To ensure that the engine runs at lower RPMs, the top three gear ratios in the transmission have been extended. Fuel economy is further optimized through the latest electric motor-assisted steering system which reduces power drain and low resistance tires.

The nine major components of Hyundai’s Hybrid Blue Drive include:
1. An efficient 30kW electric motor, delivering 205 N-m of torque.
2. A regenerative braking system.
3. An integrated starter generator that enables the engine to turn off at stops and restart automatically under acceleration.
4. A breakthrough lithium polymer battery package, with 5.3 Ah of capacity at 270 volts.
5. Optimized Theta II 2.4-liter engine.
6. 6-speed automatic transmission with an improved efficiency electric oil pump.
7. Weight-efficient architecture coupled with a low drag coefficient.
8. Electric air conditioning compressor.
9. Hybrid power control unit.

Hyundai’s hybrid system stores its electrical charge in a 270V lithium polymer rechargeable battery (5.3Ah/270V) that surpasses both existing nickel-metal hydride and pending lithium-ion applications. Lithium polymer batteries are more durable and space-efficient than other, bulkier hybrid batteries.

Electric Car Demo Drive to be Held on April 14 at Corbin Motor Speedway

Green Star Products, Inc. (OTC:GSPI), along with its global auto industry partners, announced today their Kentucky electric vehicle demonstration event and strategic plans to build and assemble electric vehicles in the United States.

Green Star Products with its consortium partner, Global Green Cars, Inc., has chosen the State of Kentucky for its demonstration because this state has exhibited interest in being the electric vehicle capital of the United States. Global Green Cars has already identified a potentially suitable Kentucky site for its electric vehicle assembly plant.

The high performance production electric car will be showcased and test driven at the Corbin Motor Speedway in Corbin, Kentucky, on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, from 10 AM to 1 PM. The Corbin Speedway is located approximately 3.5 miles west of Interstate-75 Exit 25 on U.S. Highway 25W, (606) 526-8899. The track is a 1/4 mile slightly banked asphalt oval. Those who want to register for a free test drive should request so by sending an email to

During the years 1992 through 1998, Green Star Products, Inc. (OTC:GSPI)(formerly Battery Automated Technology (BAT) International, Inc.) was engaged in electric vehicle production. During that period, GSPI built electric cars off their assembly lines which set many world records that still stand today. These cars and trucks are still rated as some of the finest performing electric vehicles being tested today. GSPI vehicles were tested by the U.S. government and were also crash tested (see crash test video at

However, GSPI did not pursue the electric vehicle beyond 1998 because California's electric car mandates failed and were defeated by Detroit in federal court and the electric car market did not materialize. Green Star Products went on to be a leader in the Biorefinery Industry, which includes Biodiesel Production, Algae Production and Cellulosic Ethanol Production – and remains to this date as our core business.

The electric vehicles that are needed today are those that will replace the most high polluting vehicles in use today. Those vehicles are intra-city, slow moving, stop-and-go delivery vehicles which do not travel more than 35 miles per day and pollute more than any other vehicle on a per mile basis.

U.S. Department of Transportation states that in 2006 U.S. workers commuted to work on average only 25 minutes; that U.S. highways are only used by vehicles with an average of 27.58 miles per day per capita; and the daily vehicle miles of travel per capita of the 30 largest urbanized areas have a range from 14.0 miles/day/capita (San Juan, PR) to 36.0 miles/day/capita (Houston, TX).

Electric vehicles are ideal for today's city traffic where most of the population commutes – they do not waste energy while not moving at a stop light or slow traffic; electric motors are more efficient than similar internal combustion engines; and they do not pollute in high traffic areas where pollution control is critical to air quality.

Therefore, GSPI's plan is to build an assembly plant that will produce electric vehicles to meet that market using an improved inexpensive high performance technology similar to the one used in GSPI's electric vehicle production era combined with strategic support from global auto industry companies.

GSPI determined that it needed an inexpensive light weight truck that can carry a significant amount of weight. Green Star decided on a commercial lightweight vehicle built in China that even with an extended cab weighs only 1,980 pounds (900 Kg) and has a carrying capacity of 1,760 pounds (800 Kg), which is almost its own weight.

Green Star has been successfully negotiating with Chinese companies to be our partners. GSPI's Vice President of International Projects, Michael Hu, was born in China, speaks fluent Chinese and is heading the negotiations with China. GSPI has set up a Consortium Auto Company called Global Green Cars to organize the variety of companies and industry talents required to start up and operate an electric vehicle assembly line. The plans include bringing Chinese engineers as consultants to set up the production line in the U.S., however, this is only the first step in bringing these vehicles to the United States. Mr. Hu has confirmed the signing of a Letter of Intent from a Design Institution in China that designed the assembly line equipment for other major automobile companies. This Design Institution has already forwarded their design layout for Global Green Cars at 30,000 vehicles per year.

GSPI has also arranged for California Environmental Engineering (CEE) and their subsidiary company G & K Automotive Conversions to support the conversion of Chinese vehicles to U.S. Standards. G & K was responsible for converting the Smart CarTM to conform to American safety standards and be drivable on American roads. G & K Automotive converted over 3,000 Smart Cars to American standards four years before Mercedes Benz was able to get them approved in the United States.

Brooks Agnew, PhD, GSPI's Vice President of Engineering, has extensive experience with several automobile companies including Nissan, Isuzu, Subaru, Honda, Toyota, General Motors, Daimler-Chrysler, Volkswagen and Ford Motor Company.

The Chinese delivery truck is a durable tough vehicle, for example, the Ford Ranger truck can only carry a load approximately 40% of its own curb vehicle weight, the Chinese truck can carry almost 100% of its own curb weight.

Green Star converted many new Ford Ranger trucks (NYSE:F) to electric drive in the mid-1990s. In fact, a GSPI Ranger electric truck was the first electric truck and production electric vehicle to successfully climb Pikes Peak in June 1993. The 1993 demonstration run was covered by Channel 11 News, where the cameraman rode in the bed of the electric Ford Ranger.

Brooks Agnew along with Michael Hu will lead the Global Green Cars auto team in the United States.

It is planned that the plug-in GGC electric vehicles will be produced as full electric vehicles (full EV) to be legally used on freeways and highways with speed capabilities of +70 mph. The consumer should distinguish these full electric vehicles (full EV) from neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV) which are limited to speeds of 25 mph.

The normal driving cost for the GGC electric vehicles will be equivalent to +100 miles per gallon gasoline powered vehicles (based on $0.10/kWh electricity purchase and $2.00/gallon gasoline purchase).

Vehicle prices start at $20,000 and will probably qualify for significant government rebates. At the present time and with the help of our major Chinese automobile partners, there are no competitors for this type of vehicle at this price range in the United States.

The plug-in GGC electric vehicles will be offered with a variety of battery packs to include lead-acid packs with a range of 50 to 70 miles per charge, or more expensive batteries, at customer's choice, with ranges of up to 200 miles per charge. The GGC electric vehicles will also be sold with the option of being hybrid vehicles. The hybrid option would provide a means of extending the range of the vehicle during the daytime use. The hybrid option could double the range of the vehicle within an 8 hour daytime usage delivery period, depending on driving conditions and driver's driving habits.

Recently on Mach 19, 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a request for proposals (RFP) which includes the production of electric vehicles. The DOE will administer $6.8 billion to an estimated 56 companies. Green Star Products together with Global Green Cars and its automobile consortium will participate in this RFP.

Green Star Products, Inc. (OTC:GSPI) is an environmentally friendly company dedicated to creating innovative cost-effective products to improve the quality of life and clean up the environment. Green Star Products and its Consortium are involved in the production of green sustainable goods including renewable resources like algae biodiesel and clean-burning biofuels, cellulosic ethanol and other products, as well as lubricants, additives and devices that reduce emissions and improve fuel economy in vehicles, machinery and power plants. For more information, see Green Star Products' Web site at, or call Public Relations at 1-800-741-7648 and 1-800-340-9784, or fax 619-789-4743, or email Information about trading prices and volume can be obtained at several Internet sites, including, and under the ticker symbol "GSPI".

Forward-looking statements in the release are made pursuant to the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including without limitation, continued acceptance of the company's products, increased levels of competition for the company, new products and technological changes, the company's dependence on third-party suppliers, and other risks detailed from time to time in the company's periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

AC Cars set to Unveil Cobra MkVI at Top Marques Show in Monaco

AC Cars will use this month's Top Marques auto show in Monaco to launch their new Cobra MkVI supercar.

Featuring a retro design and a lightweight removable hardtop which comes with gull-wing doors, the new Cobra MkVI is built in Heyda, Germany by Gullwing GmbH. Weighing in at just 1025 kg (2260 lbs), the new supercar boasts aluminum bodywork and a hand built tubular space-frame chassis.

Power is provided by the Corvette's 6.2-liter V8 engine which produces 437 bhp in GT and 647 bhp in the GTS. In terms of performance, the company estimates that the GTS will be able to rocket from 0-62 mph in just 3.3 seconds. Of course true sports cars are measured by more than just speed, so AC Cars decided to equip the new MkVI with Porsche-sourced brakes with vented discs that measure 332 mm front and 298 mm rear as well as a race-derived suspension.

The interior will feature a luxurious cabin which will come with premium German leather upholstery and standard air conditioning.

With production currently underway, AC Cars is working on setting up a distribution and service network in Europe to sell and maintain the cars.

Bentley Continental Supersports to Cost $273,295

The 2010 Bentley Continental Supersports goes on sale in the US at a price of US$273,295 which includes a US$2,595 destination charge, a US$3,700 federal gas-guzzler tax penalty and US$16,500 carbon-ceramic brakes that are optional on other Continental models. While it is notably dearer on the pocket than the $203,600 Continental GT Speed, it justifies the price tag by being the most powerful road Bentley ever built.

Fitted with a 6.0-litre twin turbo W12 engine the lightweight Supersports produces a brawny 621hp (463kW) and torque of 800Nm. It runs either on regular unleaded petrol or E85 biofuel. Naught to 60mph is done in 3.7 seconds, top speed is 329 km/h (204 mph) and Bentley indicates an average fuel consumption figure of 17.3mpg UK (16.3 litres/100km). Although the car will begin selling this October, flex-fuel capabilities only arrive in North America in the summer of 2010.

The Supersports is Bentley's first attempt at cleaning up while continuing to offer customers expected levels of performance and luxury. To that end the coupe is available with a carbon fiber fascia, diamond quilted Alcantara sports seats and an optional 15-speaker Bentley sound system among other things.

Fellow motorists will spot it by its new front bumper with bigger air intake grilles, dual bonnet vents, 20-inch wheels wrapped in 275/35 ZR20 Pirelli Ultra High Performance tyres, a new rear bumper and a retractable rear spoiler.

Maruti to launch hybrid cars in 3 to 5 years

Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest car company by sales, is working on an ambitious plan to launch electric cars and compressed natural gas (CNG) variants for three or four models in the domestic market. The plan is part of the company’s broad strategy to develop small cars that run on alternative fuel technology.

“We are developing electric car technology for India. But it might take us up to the next five years or more to manufacture and sell electric cars in the domestic market,” said Maruti Suzuki Managing Director Shinzo Nakanishi.

Maruti Suzuki Chairman R C Bhargava, added, "We are working on multi-fuel variants and some models have been identified for CNG. A CNG kit currently costs over Rs 40,000 and that is expensive. Also, these cars can only be launched in 2010 or 2011, when there is a pan-India CNG filling system from companies like Reliance."

Bhargava pointed out that even Delhi lacked sufficient CNG filling systems for commercial vehicles. The company has already launched LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) variants of the Maruti 800 and Wagon R.

Suzuki Motor Corporation of Japan, which holds 54.2 per cent in Maruti Suzuki, has already taken some major R& D initiatives in alternative fuels, including developing fuel cell technology in partnership with General Motors of the US. The company is using the mid-sized SX4 to conduct R&D in Japan for hybrid technology. The fuel combination being tested is a mix of fuel cells and high-pressure hydrogen. Nakanishi did not specify if this technology was being considered for India. Earlier vehicles tested by Suzuki Japan for hybrid technology include small cars like the Wagon R for the Japanese market.

Nakanishi said the R&D unit in Japan is currently addressing two key challenges in developing electric cars for India — mileage per charge and price.

“Cars available in the domestic market can give, say, 120 km per charge. What they are implying is 120 km for a single passenger — which means the power is sufficient for the driver of the car alone,” said Nakanishi.

“If another passenger joins, the travel range per charge drops to 60 km. If a third persons sits behind the range drops to 30 km. We are trying to address the longer range of driving in our R&D work,” he explained.

On pricing, Nakanishi said, “You have Honda and Toyota, which have proven, commercially viable hybrid technology cars. But internationally, they sell in small volumes. Globally, Suzuki is known as a low-cost car manufacturer selling in large volumes. We would like to achieve that for electric cars in India.”

Bhargava, meanwhile, also said reports of bookings for the Tata Motors’ Nano (which started on April 9) has had no impact on the Maruti sales.

“We are not seeing any impact on our sales due to the Nano in April and I don't think it will have any impact this year at all. We expect wholesale sales to be good for April since retail sales in March were good and dealers have liquidated their stocks,” he said.

Mitsubishi details global iMiEV plans

Mitsubishi's big electric car announcement at the New York Auto Show was that the iMiEV would be coming to the U.S. All we could get out of Mitsubishi reps before the big reveal was that this will happen sometime before 2012.
When we got to spend a few minutes with John Koenig, Mitsubishi North America's executive vice president of operations, he said, "We've now announced that for all the global markets, wherever the left hand drive is needed, that's where it's going to be. We just can't say the exact timing when it'll be, but I would say within two years."

With Japan, the UK, and the rest of Europe due to get the iMiEV before the U.S., the question of how many of these cute electric cars Mitsubishi can produce was at the top of our minds. We asked Koenig about the reports that the company would increase its annual production capability to 20,000 units. 20,000 may seem like a too few to some people, but Koenig said that the real numbers are really even smaller. Less than 10,000 iMiEVs will be made per year when Mitsubishi starts up "full production." The limiting factor, as should be no surprise, is the number of battery packs that GS Yuasa can make. Koenig said, "Right now, GS Yuasa is our source of batteries, through the joint venture we've done with them. I think 10,- or 12,000 is the maximum volume at the beginning. We're working on figuring out a way to get greater battery production, but that's going to mean an investment in a plant somewhere to produce more. We haven't made a decision on where that plant would be located, whether that be in Japan or North America or Europe.

Ford Fiesta 5-door hatchback

For all the strength that the U.S. automakers have shown in the realm of big trucks and SUVs over the last thirty years, they are remarkably weak when it comes to small cars. However, all that appears to be about to change quite dramatically. A plethora of stylish small cars are coming to market over the next 12-24 months wearing the badges of, at least, Ford and General Motors. Chrysler may even get in the action if it can consummate a deal with Fiat and get the 500. At the moment however, the first and perhaps most exciting example is the Ford Fiesta.

Ford sold the first-generation Fiesta in the U.S. for several years in the late '70s and early '80s in the wake of the second Middle East oil crisis. Since then, the Fiesta has remained a relatively popular option in Europe, but America had to make do mostly with the Escort and Focus along with a few years of the Kia-sourced Festiva and Aspire. Ford is now in the midst of re-focusing its efforts on cars with plenty of help of Europe. The first of those Euro-Fords will be the 6th generation Fiesta which arrives here around the end of this year. We had the chance to spend some time behind the wheel of the Fiesta in Manhattan during the New York Auto Show. Find out if the Fiesta is more Fit or Festiva after the jump.

Over the last several decades, small cars from Detroit tended to be really cheap, because American car buyers with plenty of access to cheap gas had no interest in paying more for what they considered to be less car. Over the last 5 years or so, that pay per pound attitude has started to change, as appealing smaller cars like the MINI and Honda Fit have been able to command somewhat (or in the case of the MINI substantially) higher prices. At a higher price point, buyers can get better quality materials and the amenities they expect in a larger car. The Fiesta is aimed squarely at the segment of appealing small cars.

When the new Fiesta debuted in Europe last year, it took the kinetic design themes used on the Mondeo, Kuga and other cars to the B-segment. The result is a fantastic looking little car that Europeans can get in 3- or 5-door hatchback body styles. Fortunately, Americans will also have access to the hatchbacks in addition to a 4-door sedan. The production Fiestas for North America will be built a Ford plant in Mexico that formerly built F-150s but is currently being retooled for car production. The first batch of Fiestas to come here from Germany are being used for promotional programs including the social media-focused Fiesta Movement. Since they were built in Germany they are European-spec cars but the North American version will be almost identical apart from a few details.

The North American and European Fiesta will be over 90 percent common with most of the changes driven by regulatory requirements such as the lighting. The U.S.-spec headlights will look the same but use different internal elements. There are also a few changes inside the car such as the adjuster for the front seat back angle. American drivers hate the rotary knob design typically used on European cars so that will be replace by a lever like those found here. The adjuster for the rear view mirrors is also being re-located from its position on the door panel facing the center of the car to a spot on top of the panel because drivers found the location awkward to use. What won't be changing, thankfully, is the design of the instrument panel which got carried over almost intact from the original Verve concept. The soft touch materials on the dash board are also coming intact, giving the interior a high quality feel that American consumers have not been accustomed to in this segment.

When we got stuck in Manhattan traffic, a quick squeeze of the gas had the Fiesta squirting into gaps between cabs and trucks and its diminutive size made it easy to fit in. The Euro Fiesta is rated at a credible 9.9 seconds for the 0-62 mph sprint which should be plenty for almost everyone's needs. The brakes also felt solid and easy to modulate and Fiesta's will come standard with anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. Sometime in the next 2-3 years Ford will also add an EcoBoost engine to the Fiesta lineup, likely a 1.2-liter that should further improve mileage without sacrificing performance. In the meantime, assuming people start buying cars again, Americans should find themselves quite content with the Fiesta when it starts to arrive around the end this year. Pricing won't be announced until launch time, but Ford has indicated it will be competitive with the Fit, or likely around $13-18,000.

Peapod, up close and personal with the electric vehicle in Manhattan

You know, the GEM version 2 folks. While saying this is the next-generation GEM is technically correct, the Peapod is really a fresh concept for Chrysler (which owns GEM and made Peapod Mobility its own company earlier this year).

Peter Arnell, the chief innovation officer at Peapod Mobility, took us on a quick descriptive tour of the Peapod and said that the design was influenced by three things. Ready for the list? The reflection in Buzz Aldrin's helmet when he stepped onto the moon, a turtle and Darth Vader. Yeah, that's what we thought, too. Find our more about the Peapod after the jump.

First and foremost, the Peapod is a neighborhood electric vehicle, and has all of the benefits and drawbacks that entails: zero emissions, a 25 mph top speed, two-cents a mile estimated running costs, and a 30-mile range. A full charge takes 6-8 hours from a 110V outlet. This is all standard NEV stuff. The Peapod stands out by design. From the outside, the totally curvy body smiles at you from pretty much every angle, but especially the front. Even when you're sitting in the car, there is a feeling of openess. The entire top is see-through and removable, for example, and all four mesh seats in the rolling prototype we got to spend time with are Aeron-like and greatly increase the spacious feel of the interior. There is a push-button dirve/reverse selector and an integrated iPod dock. The LED instrument cluster display is barebones and clear. Arnell surprised us by pointed out that the interior light doubles as a removable flashlight. Here's another surprise: the Peapod might cost $12,000 when it goes on sale. Orders are supposed to start this month, on Earth Day, with deliveries scheduled for the end of summer.

Before leaving, we got a quick peek at the Peapod Mobliity office where we saw renderings of Peapod trucks (Utilitypod), two-seat (Twinpod) and four-seat models, and some of the technical bits that power the vehicle. Arnell also showed off a range of design experiments that show how the Peapod design evolved. We were sad to leave without a quick spin around the block, but those should be coming soon.

World Best Small Car is Toyota iQ

The race may now be set not to go to the swift, but the small. Toyota, evidently spurred by the positive reception to Daimler's Smart car, is planning to bring its iQ model to America soon after it's introduced in Japan this November, and Europe next January. Japan has already proven itself to be a receptive market for small cars, and Toyota says that the only thing standing between the iQ and similar success in the United States, is meeting American safety standards. If all goes as planned, the iQ has the potential to give the Smart—currently the littlest car sold in the U.S.—some serious competition in terms of fuel economy and versatility in the micro class.

For starters, the iQ is a four-passenger vehicle while the Smart only carries two. Some might quibble over the size of the iQ's backseat, and question whether the car can comfortably carry four American adults—Toyota actually told journalists it was a "3 ½-seater," as if to excuse a semi-functional rear seat.

The iQ is larger than the diminutive Smart, but not by much. Its wheelbase is a little more than five inches longer, and on the whole, the car is only about a foot longer than the Smart—11.4 inches to be exact. That said, its slightly larger size and some under-the-skin engineering wizardry will give the iQ better handling than its competitor, according to Hiroki Nakajima, the vehicle's chief engineer.

Nakajima also told Automotive News that the iQ will have the best fuel economy of any Toyota other than the Prius. The Prius is currently rated at 48 City/ 45 Highway, while the Yaris gets 29/36—Daimler's Smart gets 33/41. Chances are, the iQ will be very close to the Smart in terms of fuel economy, and if it does any better, it's likely to be only a mile or two difference per gallon.

Although it's 33 inches shorter than the Yaris, Toyota claims the iQ has more interior space due to engineering advances such as smaller heating and air-conditioning units and high-tensile steel frames that allow thinner passenger seats. The iQ will also be priced close to the Yaris, which could make it a sub-$10,000 vehicle in base trim. The Smart starts about $2,000 higher.

In Japan (and most likely the U.S.,) the iQ will come with either a 1.3 or 1-liter gasoline engine. The latter is the same size as the Mitsubishi powerplant that is found in the American Smart. In Europe, the iQ will offer a 1.4-liter diesel, which should turn in even better fuel economy. The European Smart diesel clocks in at more than 60 mpg on the highway.

The good news is that more choices in the mini car arena are just what consumers are asking for right now. If the U.S. version of the iQ can deliver breakthrough design features at an enticing price, it could be the first step toward turning micros from a mere curiosity to a mainstay on American roads.

How Hybrid Cars Work

Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors and can be configured to obtain different objectives, such as improved fuel economy, increased power, or additional auxiliary power for electronic devices and power tools.

Some of the advanced technologies typically used by hybrids include

Regenerative Braking. The electric motor applies resistance to the drivetrain causing the wheels to slow down. In return, the energy from the wheels turns the motor, which functions as a generator, converting energy normally wasted during coasting and braking into electricity, which is stored in a battery until needed by the electric motor.

Electric Motor Drive/Assist. The electric motor provides additional power to assist the engine in accelerating, passing, or hill climbing. This allows a smaller, more efficient engine to be used. In some vehicles, the motor alone provides power for low-speed driving conditions where internal combustion engines are least efficient.

Automatic Start/Shutoff. Automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop and restarts it when the accelerator is pressed. This prevents wasted energy from idling.

New York 2009: EVII shows off the Wave and Inizio

EV Innovations Inc. (EVII) was formerly known as Hybrid Technologies. The old name never really fit, because the company specializes in electric vehicles, not hybrids. Here at the New York Auto Show, EVII began rectifying that oversight with a display of three pure-electric vehicles, including - and this is a first for the company no matter what it's called - two models of their own design.

EVII has a couple of conversions (the latest is the LiV Harmony, an ex-Pontiac Vibe). LiV is EVII's designation for their converted vehicles and includes the LiV Dash (a smart fortwo) and the LiV Flash (a MINI). These cars can be purchased today and EVII will also take your order for their all-electric line. All this means is that you can put a deposit down and then EVII will build your vehicle soon. Hill said they hope to build 10 each of the 2010 Inizio and the 2010 Wave in the next 12 months. The what and the what, did you say? Find out after the jump.

The $139,000 Inizio is EVII's sports car model. Cerven said he hopes the Inizio is like a Porsche or a Corvette that you're proud to sit in and drive. The Wave, which will start at $34,900, is more the grocery-getter. The Wave's top speed is 80 mph and will have a range of 170 miles. The Inizio has a totally inappropriate top speed of 170 mph and can go up to 200 miles between charges. 0-60 times is a hoped-for 4 seconds. These models will have designations (like L8 or L10) that describe the number and type of batteries that the customer chooses when they buy the car (so, L8 would mean 8 lithium ion polymer packs). Cerven said it hasn't been decided just how or if you'll be able to upgrade the number of packs in your car after you take delivery.

EVII is testing two styles of the Wave, one with three and one with four wheels. As regular readers might suspect, the three-wheeled vehicle is being tested because it'll be cheaper to bring it to market because it would be registered as a motorcycle. The problem, Cerven said, is that "nobody has signed off on [three-wheeled] vehicles yet." People just aren't used to driving a trike, and so the company is working on a four-wheeled model as well. He said he expects the four-wheeler to come to market, and, yes, the $34,900 price is for the quad.

Hill said that currently, there is one rolling Inizio prototype and one each of the three-wheeled and four-wheeled Wave models. In the booth, EVII left the body of the Inizio at home to show off the car's suspension, build and powertrain, as you can see in the picture above.

BMW 760Li & 760i Revealed with Newly Developed 6-Liter V12 Twin Turbo Engine

BMW has officially unveiled their new 760i and 760Li which are powered by a brand new twin-turbo V12 that produces 400 kW (544 hp) and 750 Nm (553 lb-ft) of torque. Directly aimed at the 5.5-liter biturbo V12 Mercedes S600 with 380 kW (517 hp) and 829 Nm (612 lb-ft) of torque, the new BMW 760's have more horsepower but less torque.

The new all-aluminum 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 was designed from the ground up and features the latest technology such as high precision fuel injection, infinite double-VANOS camshaft adjustment, and a volume flow-controlled oil pump. BMW went to great length to specifically design the two exhaust gas turbochargers so they would provide unparalleled power and performance worthy of the wealthy owners who typically flock to this high-end model. Despite the fact that the car boasts more power than its predecessor, the new 760i actually features a 4.5 percent increase in fuel economy for an estimated rating of 12.9L/100km (21.9mpg UK / 18.2mpg US). In the terms of performance, 0-100 km/h comes in just 4.6 seconds while the top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph).

Power flows to the rear wheels through a newly developed eight-speed automatic transmission that was designed to provide maximum gearshift comfort, sportiness and efficiency. By partnering with transmission specialist ZF, BMW was able to find a way to allow the car to use its highest gear at reduced engine speeds for improved fuel economy and smoothness.

Exterior styling differences between the 760i and 750i are minor but include the addition of V12 badges, a slightly revised grille, unique 19-inch light-alloy wheels, and special dual exhaust tips. Interior changes include new stainless-steel door guards with illumination, a leather wrapped instrument panel, an alcantara lined roof, and exclusive burr walnut wood trim.

As BMW's flagship model, the new 760's boast a high level of performance driving equipment such as dynamic damping control, dynamic driving control, speed sensitive steering, an air suspension, and the dynamic drive anti-roll stability system. Luxury features include GPS navigation, four-zone climate control, automatic soft close doors, cruise control with automatic braking, and park distance control. On the options list there is active cruise control, a night vision system with pedestrian detection, a heads-up display, a rearview camera, and high-beam assistant.

Get close to hundreds of new cars this June

Car enthusiasts dismayed by the cancellation of next year's British International Motor Show should take heart - organisers of the London Motorexpo this June have revealed plans for their biggest show yet.

More than 200 vehicles from 40 manufacturers are lined up for the event, which takes place in the imposing Docklands setting of Canary Wharf.

Mercedes-Benz will headline the show with a full line-up of vehicles on Canada Square, using the occasion to debut its long-awaited new E-class in the UK.

Other makers who have booked stands at the show include Saab - which will show off its new 9-3X - and Land Rover, which has promised to debut its 2010 model line-up. The off-road firm will also entertain visitors with an "interactive consumer driving experience", both on and off-road.

Suzuki will show off its new Alto city car while Vespa and Piaggio will showcase their latest scooters for those who prefer two wheels. Superbike World Championship manufacturer Aprilia will also be there, displaying the road-going version of its RSV4, among other high-powered machinery.

Volvo will exhibit a range of models at the London Motorexpo, with the emphasis on its "green" technology, while Porsche will be celebrating the recent opening of its new Canary Wharf dealership.

Footballers wives' favourite - the Hummer - will be on hand with the firm promising to demonstrate its "versatility and suitability" for the "toughest of terrains through to the most elegant of urban environments". Other big marques to present their model ranges at the Motorexpo include BMW, Aston Martin, Cadillac, Corvette and Jaguar, with more names to follow.

Graeme Carver, the managing director of the Canary Wharf Motorexpo, said: "I am delighted that we are seeing such strong support from across the spectrum of manufacturers. Our 2009 exhibitor line-up already surpasses that of last year's event; we look forward to working with all our exhibitors to try and generate sales as this very tough time".

The New cars 'cheaper than used ones

New cars are currently cheaper than used ones for the first time in the UK, according to a comprehensive guide to UK car prices.

Heavy discounting of new cars and rising prices of second-hand cars due to a shortage of supply have led to this bizarre situation.

Parker's says this is first time used cars have commanded a premium since it started collecting price data in 1972.

However, Parker's warns that this price reversal will not last long.

'Shifting stock'

The recession in the UK has led to a dramatic fall in demand for new cars, so carmakers are having to slash prices to entice customers to buy.

Indeed, figures out on Monday showed that car sales plunged more than 30% in March, compared with a year earlier.

At the same time, a shortage of good quality used cars has seen second-hand car prices rise significantly since the start of this year.

"Price cuts on new cars designed to shift stock, and big discounts from car supermarkets, mean that the price of selected new, pre-registered cars can be the same and, in some cases, even lower than one-year-old used cars with several thousand miles on the clock," Parker's said.

Price rises

For example, it has found a 2008 Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 litre with 5,160 miles on the clock for £6,494. A new, pre-registered 2009 version is available from one dealer for £5,995, a saving of almost £600.

But normality should return to car prices before long, Parker's added.

As stocks of new cars are reduced, deals will soon dry up, it said.

And imminent price rises for new cars will also have an impact.

"New car prices are set to go up, as a number of manufacturers are raising the list price of their cars to improve their margins, despite new sales continuing to slump," Parker's explained.

Ford are set to increase prices by 3.75%, Seat by 3.5% and Nissan by 3.4%, it said.

Acura ZDX Concept Revealed in New York

Acura has revealed a prototype of the high-riding ZDX four door coupe at the 2009 New York International Auto Show. The ZDX represents a new market segment for Acura, one that has great possibilities.

"The ZDX is truly a luxury performance coupe - plus," said Jeff Conrad, vice president of Acura sales. "The emotional coupe styling coupled with a luxurious and dramatic interior and surprising versatility, allows the ZDX to define its own segment and attract an entirely new customer."

The ZDX's sportiness is emphasised by the flowing lines, the sharp roofline, concealed rear door handles and daring fender flares. While the boot is roomy with space for plenty of luggage, its all-glass make is a continuation of the uniqueness of the concept car. Signing off the exterior are 9-spoke 20-inch wheels and dual chrome tailpipes.

Size-wise the ZDX concept is 192.4 inches (4.89m) long, 78.5 inches (1.99m) wide and has a wheelbase of 108.2 inches (2.75m). On the other hand the BMW X6, the closest competitor to the ZDX measures 192 inches (4.88m) in length, is 77.9 inches (1.98m) wide and its wheelbase is 115.5 inches (2.93m).

Premium leather upholstery features on the seats and the hand-stitched leather dashboard adds to the vehicle's design flair. Although not as obvious as in the X6, the Acura's rear seats also accommodate only two. A third person may take the middle area but not very comfortably.

Comfort and safety technologies include the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, a blind-spot information system and a rear camera.

The engine is an all-aluminium VTEC V6 coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission and Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). The production ZDX goes onto dealership floors this fall/ autumn in the US.

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Buying American cars: It's finally catching on

Sales of cardigans at J.Crew have soared ever since Michelle Obama wore an ivory sweater with sequins to 10 Downing Street. Now, if she'd only buy a Chrysler.
I stole that joke from "Saturday Night Live."
But, here in Detroit, where bumper stickers read "Want Change? Buy American," driving a foreign-made vehicle is becoming an anathema.
A prime example is my brother-in-law, Joe Keenan, an interior-design consultant with expensive taste. For years, he has driven a Jaguar, but since Ford sold the brand in 2008, he's now in the market for a Lincoln MKS. (His first choice, a hybrid Ford Fusion, has a lead time of seven months.)
Because the decline in the auto industry has led to severe cuts to Detroit's arts and cultural institutions, Joe says he can't, in good conscience, contribute to the downturn.
In January, the GM Foundation, the charitable arm of the struggling car maker, told groups like the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Michigan Opera Theater and Mosaic, a youth theater group, not to expect any funding this year. Late last month, Chrysler Foundation followed suit, announcing that it, too, would suspend its arts philanthropy. The Ford Motor Co. has said it expects its giving to fall by about 40 percent from last year.
"Everyone in this town that drives a foreign make should write a check to the DIA or the Detroit Symphony and then another check to a local charity to make up for the lost funds from the Big Three," Joe says. "People in this town don't realize how much support the auto industry contributes to the arts and to the needy."
Dr. Bruce Garretson, an ophthalmologist with offices in Royal Oak and Rochester, has bought BMWs for almost two decades. This will be the first year he will buy an American-made vehicle. "Although I prefer the way a BMW drives," the father of two college-age sons says. "I believe that supporting Detroit is more important than my personal taste given our current economic condition."
Even though Dr. Diane McShane of Birmingham was in the market for a used vehicle for their family car, the internist says: "My husband would not look at anything except an American car. We bought a Pacifica."
Reflecting a similar trend, a statistic has been making the e-mail rounds lately that has galvanized consumers to buy local. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, the projection is: "If every household started spending just $10 per week of their current grocery budget on locally grown foods, we'd keep more than $37 million each week circulating within Michigan's economy."
In 2003, Ryan Anderson of Lincoln Park says he saw the writing on the wall. The following year, he started the Web site "I just figured if people would start pumping their money into the local economy, we just might improve," says Anderson, a Web site development and software consultant.
The site provides a directory of Michigan-made products and company listings and also is sponsoring a buy-Michigan pledge calling for spending the extra few bucks expected in paychecks from the economic stimulus package on in-state products.
The 36-year-old says: "The site was running steadily until about six months ago, when traffic shot up dramatically. Last month, March 2009, was our best month ever."
Who knows? One visit to the site and you might be eating Kellogg's brand cereal from Battle Creek and Jiffy Mix muffins from Chelsea for breakfast, Koegel's deli meats from Flint for lunch and Romano's pasta sauce from Shelby Township for dinner with a glass of Merlot from St. Julian in Paw Paw or a glass of milk from Guernsey Farms in Northville.
Now, if we could just get the members of President Obama's auto task force to dump their personally owned foreign-made vehicles. In February, Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson reported only two of the eighteen policymakers own American-made vehicles. Unfortunately, that track record is no laughing matter at all.

Jay Leno drives a Volt mule, likes what he sees

Jay Leno's free comedy show for Detroit was, by all accounts, a big success. 15,000 people, many of whom were unemployed auto workers, packed The Palace of Auburn Hills Monday night. The popular late night comic is a self-confessed car nut, so it's not surprising to hear that he made a stop to check in on General Motors while in the Motor City.

When asked about the possibility of GM entering bankruptcy, Leno, who has shown a large interest in electric and alternative vehicles, said, "GM's not bankrupt yet! I was there today actually, I saw a lot of good product." Of course, one of those promising vehicles is the Chevy Volt, which Leno was reportedly allowed to drive with design chief Ed Welburn in the passenger seat.

Prior to his appearance in Detroit, Leno was quoted as saying the following about Chevy's upcoming green car: "I think it will be great. I think you'll find that the Volt will be a superior package to the Prius." Unsurprisingly, according to reports in the Detroit News, Leno's brief stint behind the wheel did nothing to change his early impression.