VW Releases Teaser Sketch for New Mid-Size Sedan aka NMS

VW of America has officially begun their media push for the upcoming NMS (new mid-sized sedan) by releasing a generic looking black and white design sketch. VW has confirmed the market launch for late 2011 which coincides with the next generation Passat arrival.

As previously reported, the new sedan will be larger and cost nearly $8000 less than the current Passat. That puts the NMS in the low $20,000 range, a much more competitive price. Such an offering would put the NMS as a direct threat to market segment leaders Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

A press agent for Volkswagen said, "We'll have two sedans coming out at the same time, and the smaller one will cost considerably more than the bigger one."

Volkswagen is choosing to build the NMS in Chattanooga, Tennessee to take advantage of the weak dollar. The US dollar has lost nearly 15 percent of its value against the Euro since March 2009. This translates to significantly higher American pricing for any vehicle built in Germany.

With the onset of the NMS, which is targeted to sell 100,000 units per year, the Passat is rendered virtually uncompetitive. This is supported by an incredibly low 9,200 Passat units sold in the first nine months of 2009. As a result, VW is reportedly considering the cancellation of the Volkswagen Passat line within two years.

European customers will continue to see the Passat in VW showrooms. A new version should come on the market in 2011.

vote nowBuzz up! Electric Car Startup Fisker Buys GM Plant to Build Midsize Car

Over the next few years, we expect to begin seeing some unfamiliar hood ornaments in the rear-view mirror. One of the start-up companies vying to become the future of the American automotive industry just took a big step toward viability.

Edmunds Inside Line reports, "Tiny Fisker Automotive on Tuesday confirmed that it will spend $18 million to buy GM's dormant Wilmington Assembly plant in Delaware to build its plug-in hybrid sedan starting in late 2012." The plant once built the Chevy Malibu, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky and Saturn L-Series cars. Now, "In a dramatic example of how the power balance has shifted in the U.S. auto industry," it will build a plug-in Extended-Range Electric Vehicle that Fisker plans to offer for a price below $40,000 (once federal green car tax credit is applied).

Few specifics about the planned car are known, but Kicking Tires reports, "Ironically, the vehicle would directly compete with GM's upcoming Chevy Volt."

Fisker got the plant for a bargain price. Autoblog reports, "Fisker is paying $18 million for the factory from Motors Liquidation which is the remainder of 'Old GM' which is selling off assets from bankruptcy court." The money will come from a $528 federal loan from the Department of Energy, intended to promote the development of low-emissions vehicles.

That puts the government in an ironic position. Jalopnik notes, "Basically the U.S. government is paying Fisker to buy a shuttered plant from GM," a company majority-owned by the federal government, "so they can use it to develop a Chevy Volt-killing affordable plug-in mid-size sedan."

£3,300 new car tax to be proposed by green think tank

The levy is part of a £150bn package of measures, including a tripling of fuel duty over the next decade and a household energy tax, put forward by the Green Fiscal Commission (GFC).

The recommendations will be published on Monday by the GFC, which was created to develop greener government measures, and will be presented by one of its commissioners, Lord Turner, who is also chairman of the Financial Services Authority.

reg Barker, the Tory environment spokesman, Alan Whitehead, a Labour MP on the energy select committee, and Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, will also speak at the launch of the 100-page report.

The GFC, which is chaired by Robert Napier, chairman of the Met Office, argues for a “fundamental rebalancing of the tax system” based on the “polluter pays” principle.

It wants to double the proportion of green taxes in the overall tax take from the current seven per cent, saying the green levies would be offset by cuts elsewhere to income tax and National Insurance contributions.

It also suggests a £300 tax on new cars, increasing annually to £3,300 by 2020.

The broad theme is for a raft of new ‘eco taxes’ aimed at curtailing activities that use natural resources or create pollution.

Paul Elkins, a professor at University College London and the author of the report, said: “It is really a question of moving a mindset. We’ve had it as a given that energy is cheap, so we have been wasteful. This has to change and the only way to do that is to make the polluters pay.”

Professor Elkins added that he was “hopeful” the report's recommendations will be adopted by the leading political parties.

EU companies promoting electric cars

A group of 50 representatives of European electricity companies and power distribution system operators has pledged to develop harmonised charging standards for plug-in electric cars until international standards are published. Electric vehicles are seen in a hotel in Brussels, Tuesday Oct. 27, as the industry promotes the use of electric vehicles.
The industry hopes to have the first on-street charging points for electric cars in places all across Dublin by the end of this year

2010 Golf GTi First Drive Review

SHARPER, FASTER, tighter, leaner… yes, the benchmark for the sector is even better. Volkswagen’s new Golf GTI, now built ‘at home’ in Wolfsburg Germany, sets a new standard for the affordable hot-hatch, but at a familiar price.

If you enjoyed the old GTI (and who didn’t), you’re going to love this one.

It is simply a cracking drive: thread the needle accuracy at the wheel, fast, superbly balanced, an uncanny ability to keep power to the tarmac when pressing on (which belies its front wheel drive configuration), and as quick as a greased ferret around a mountain road.

And importantly, when at work, though the old GTI’s growl has been tamed it has been replaced with the most delicious and lascivious rasp. Even better; under the whip in the DSG, each change up – we’re talking 40 millisecond shifts here - is accompanied by a Formula 1-style “womp” from the twin pipes out back.

Driving the GTI hard is a wholly visceral experience which, at the price, simply wallops its closest competitors.
On the basis of this first drive (and some longer hours at the wheel will be a better test), Volkswagen would seem to have done everything right. When word gets out, the GTI is going to have Mitsubishi and Subaru chewing their pillows and breaking out into feverish sweats.

We put both variants through their paces in the Victorian Alps – the DSG and the six speed manual. It’s not possible to drive either of these cars without grinning like a perfect idiot.

For sublime balance, for performance at a price, for enjoyment at the wheel, the Golf GTI sets the standard. This is the ‘hot hatch’ at its finest.

(It’s fitting really, seeing as Volkswagen started this hot-hatch thing all those years ago with the first Golf GTI.)

THE GLOBAL GREEN CAR Challenge kicked off on Saturday

THE GLOBAL GREEN CAR Challenge kicked off on Saturday, and now that the 3000km event is around the halfway mark, it’s time for an update on the teams’ efforts.

HSV’s unlikely entry, the V8-powered E-Series II Maloo ute has so far achieved a remarkable average fuel consumption of 7.35 l/100km - a 51 percent improvement on its official 15.1 l/100km rating.

Ford’s Falcon XR6 Turbo entry has fared similarly well with a 39 percent improvement, averaging 7.09 l/100km compared to its official rating of 11.7 l/100km.

Despite the Maloo and the Falcon swapping the lead a number of times yesterday, it hasn’t been the world’s fastest Holden versus Ford battle, with both teams averaging speeds of around 75km/h.

Skoda’s Superb 2.0 TDI entry has so far managed an average of 4.6 l/100km, compared to its official 5.4 l/100km rating.
The all-new 2010 Kia Sorento, launched only last week, has made the most of its new R-series 2.2 litre CRDi turbo diesel to achieve 5.17 l/100km (as at October 26) - down from its official 6.7 l/100km rating.

The Hyundai Santa Fe - powered by the same R-series diesel - is a hair’s breadth away from its Kia cousin, achieving 5.24 l/100km.

Suzuki’s David and Goliath battle in the three-cylinder 1.0 litre Alto has achieved a figure nearly a litre better than its official 4.8 l/100km rating, averaging just 3.99 l/100km in the event so far.

“With a further 1500km of highway cruising left to go Suzuki is extremely confident of even better engine performance. Numerous overseas tests have returned fuel figures of less than three litres per 100 kilometres,” Suzuki Australia General Manager Tony Devers said.

“We are keenly anticipating the Alto’s return to suburbia on the last day for the final 100km urban loop through the streets of Adelaide. This is where the Alto will really come into its own.”

Holden’s SIDI-equipped Omega Sportwagon has so far achieved 6.75 l/100km, against an official rating of 9.3 l/100km. While unofficial in terms of the challenge, Holden says that today’s trip computer readout offered up 5.0 l/100km.

The MINI Cooper D, with an official rating of 3.9 l/100km was ‘up against it’ in its efforts to better its official figure, but nonetheless returned a 3.5 l/100km readout at the end of Day 4.
Ford’s recently revealed Fiesta ECOnetic went the Cooper D one better, the slick diesel hatch returning 3.18 l/100km, compared to its official 3.7 l/100km rating.

And finally, the all-electric Tesla Roadster successfully broke the world record for the longest distance between battery charges, reaching 501km before needing to plug in. The previous record was 430km.

The Global Green Car Challenge continues, so stay tuned for an update at the end of the event.

2010 Porsche GT3 RS Laps Nurburgring in an Unofficial 7min 33sec

Evo magazine is reporting the newly facelifted 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS has unofficially lapped Nurburgring Nordschleife in 7min 33sec. That's still significantly slower than the current leaders, which include the Corvette ZR1 (7m26.4s), Gumpert Apollo (7m11.57s), Radical SR8LM (6m48s) and the highly disputed Nissan GT-R (7m27.56s), however, compared to the regular 911 GT3 it is a full seven seconds quicker.

The test driver was not named, however, track conditions were reported as having "some light traffic" and the timer telemetry showed a theoretical best lap of 7m 30s.

It was a year ago Porsche disputed Nissan's claims of achieving 7m 29s with the newly launched Nissan GT-R which was 20 kilos heavier than the 911 Turbo. Porsche officials were baffled as they could only achieve 7m 54s with a GT-R they purchased from the US. Porsche suspected the GT-R had been modified or used other tires. Nissan fired back by releasing photos of the tires used as well as in-car video footage with timer display. Since then Nissan has gone on to better the GT-R's time further with 7m 26.7s.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec Finalized for SEMA Debut

A new core version of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe - the 2.0T R-Spec - makes its debut at next week's SEMA Show as the first models enter showrooms in the US. Taking away non-essential equipment and leaving 'a blank canvas' for tuners, the R-Spec reduces both cost and weight and is boosted by a range of performance upgrades.

R-Spec owners are treated to Track model performance equipment for 'genuine' track-readiness straight out of the showroom. The package includes track-tuned suspension, a Brembo braking system, Torsen limited-slip differential as well as Summer performance tires on 19-inch gunmetal-finished alloys. The Genesis Coupe R-Spec features a turbocharged intercooled 2.0-liter four-pot capable of delivering 210 hp and a top speed of 137 mph.

Carrying just a $1,750 premium over the base 2.0T at $23,750, the 2.0T R-Spec forgoes a number of non-essential comfort features to achieve weight reductions and track performance. Bluetooth, cruise control, trip computer, chrome accents and multifunction steering wheel are all ditched in favour of leaving owners with some $3,000 for their own aftermarket additions. R-Spec badging as well as leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo system are specced on this model and is available in the three colours most commonly applied to international racing teams: Karussell White, Bathurst Black and Tsukuba Red.

Tesla Roadster travels 313 miles on a single charge in what appears to be new world record

Competing in Australia's Global Green Challenge, Customer Simon Hackett's red Roadster goes from Alice Springs to Coober Pedy with 3 miles left on the charge.

Coober Pedy, South Australia -- (Oct. 27, 2009) – Tesla Roadster owner Simon Hackett and co-driver Emilis Prelgauskas completed 313 miles (501 km) in a Tesla Roadster on a single charge – a distance that appears to set a new record for a production electric vehicle.

Hackett and Prelgauskas are driving Hackett's red 2008 Roadster as part of the 10th annual Global Green Challenge, one of the most high-profile rallies worldwide for alternative fuel cars. Hackett is providing updates in real time on his blog.

The pair drove from Alice Springs, in the Australian Northern Territory, to the finish marker at a point 183 km north of Coober Pedy, in South Australia. They had an estimated 3 miles left on the charge at the finish marker.

The previous distance record for an electric vehicle was set in April, when another Roadster was the only vehicle to complete the entire, 241-mile Rallye Monte Carlo d'Energies Alternatives. It had an estimated 38 miles left on the charge.

The Tesla Roadster is the first production automobile to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production EV with a range greater than 200 miles (320 km) per charge. Tesla has delivered about 900 Roadsters to customers so far.

Hackett sent Tesla the following note before going to bed last night:

"Emilis and I have decades of experience flying gliders competitively and we applied the same energy conservation techniques to our driving, with significant results! The car had about 3 miles of range left when the drive was completed. We travelled 501km on a single charge. Let that sink in for a minute.

"The security seal was applied to the charge port door when we started the journey. As this is being done as part of the Global Green Challenge, we have a full set of official verifiers here who will attest to the results and to achieving the outcome. We were followed along the journey by our support crew and a documentary film crew - so we have it on film.

"It's late here and we have another 541k to drive (with an intermediate charge stop) tomorrow - and another two days of the event left after that. When we're done, we will have driven over 3000 km's in the Roadster over the course of only six days, from Darwin to Adelaide.

About Tesla

Tesla Motors' goal is to produce increasingly affordable cars to mainstream buyers – relentlessly driving down the cost of EVs. San Carlos, Calif.-based Tesla sells cars online and has delivered about 900 Roadsters to customers. Tesla operates galleries in California's Silicon Valley and Los Angeles; New York; Seattle; Boulder, Colorado; London and Munich.

Tesla achieved overall corporate profitability in July, thanks to strong demand for the Roadster. The all-electric sports car is faster than Porsche 911 or Audi R8 yet is six times as efficient as conventional sports cars. Tesla services cars in its galleries and through "house calls" so owners can enjoy hassle-free service without leaving their home or office.

2011 Honda CR-Z

This spiritual successor to the venerable Honda CR-X originally made its debut as a concept car two years ago at the Tokyo Motor Show. And now, at this year’s show, Honda has revealed a new CR-Z, a 2-seat hybrid sports coupe that looks very much like the final production version scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in the second half of 2010.

"Beyond great styling and features, the CR-Z will bring new levels of engagement and fun to customers interested in a small car or a hybrid vehicle," says Eric Berkman, Honda’s vice president of planning.

Fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission and sport-tuned suspension, the upcoming CR-Z certainly will be engaging for the driver, the first hybrid sports coupe on the market. Although the car on display at Tokyo has a tiny back seat, the production CR-Z (which makes its worldwide debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January) is a sporty 2-seater, one with the added practicality of a hatchback.

Conveying its fun-to-drive nature, the CR-Z boasts a bold grille, slit openings for the headlamps and strong character lines that give this Honda an aggressive, angular look. It’s taller and less rounded that the original concept, making it much more practical and ready for production.

One styling cue that connects the CR-Z to the highly entertaining original CR-X is the shape of the rear quarter glass. Beneath the hood, the front-wheel-drive CR-Z is powered by a stronger version of the Insight's 1.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid powertrain. Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist works like an electric supercharger, effectively boosting both off-the-line response and fuel economy.

The CR-Z concept's interior features more glitz than the production model will, but the layout will remain the same, with the main instrument bezel positioned behind a 3-spoke steering wheel flanked by pods for the auxiliary controls. With the CR-Z—which goes into production at Honda’s Suzuka factory in February—it appears that we will now be able to mix a healthy dose of driving fun with environmental consciousness.

All those clunkers messed up with no where to go

We found out which vehicles were the most popular "green" clunkers in the Car Allowance Rebate System that ran its course earlier this fall, but it won't take much sleuthing to discover where all these clunkers have ended up. According to the AP, the disabled SUVs, minivans and trucks (mostly) are still sitting on scrap lots around the country. One recycler in Minnesota has acres crammed with 4,000 cars and can only dismantle about 100 cars a week. This is a problem, because all of the clunkers are supposed to be recycled and dealt with within six months of when they were turned in for the rebate that was worth up to $4,500.

The American Recyclers Association said before the program ended that the clunkers would be recycled "according to the rules set forth under the CARS program to achieve the highest of environmental standards. With protecting the environment being a major component in this legislation, recycling these vehicles is the next logical step." The ARA is now asking for more time to properly recycle the vehicles. Sounds reasonable, no?

Suzuki Alto Concept Posing in Tokyo

Suzuki has taken the wraps off the new Alto Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Meant to preview "the future of the minivehicle," the Alto was designed with a slightly redesigned rear end to accomodate more luggage capacity than the standard Alto. Inside, the car features a "highly legible speedometer, an easy-to-use floor-mounted shifter, and user-friendly switches and storage spaces."

Speaking of room, the concept measures 3,395mm long, 1,475mm wide, and 1,535mm high. With a 2,400mm wheelbase, the Alto can accommodate up to four occupants.

While details are limited, power comes from a 0.66-liter three-cylinder engine that is connected to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

VW chooses Deutsch LA as its new ad agency

Chrysler, Cadillac, and Chevrolet aren't the only folks looking for new advertising agencies on the assumption that, to quote GM CEO Fritz Henderson, "We can do better." For the last four years Crispin, Porter and Bogusky has attended to Volkswagen's advertising needs, bringing us moments like the return of the "Rabbit" name, that talking black Beetle, the "Find Your Fast," "Unpimp Mein Auto," "Meet the Volkswagens" and Brooke Shields hawking Routans.

Now it's the turn of Deutsch LA, who won VW's print and digital business. VW has just 2% of the U.S. market, which is about half a percent higher than when Bogusky took over, but they desperately want to get that higher and they'll be showering $200 million on Deutsch LA to make that happen.

Deustch LA's last automotive account was Saturn, and we'll assume the reason we can't remember a single Saturn commercial is due to GM's lack of ad creativity, not the agency's. VW is known for its willingness to go bold with campaigns, so we look forward to seeing what Deutsch can do.

Opel sale on hold, GM asked to have a word with EU Commission

The EU's Directorate-General for Competition (EUDGC) is looking at the Opel deal that should have been concluded already, and is asking questions of Germany and GM. Principally it is trying to resolve the issue of state aid; it was reported before that if Opel was purchased by Magna then the German government would provide financial assistance. However, if the bidder GM is said to have preferred, Belgian investment fund RHJ, won, then there would be no money coming from the German authorities.

The EUDGC wants to ensure that Magna was chosen for sound business reasons that had nothing to do with politics. It also wants to make sure that money promised to Magna was also clearly made available to other bidders. Lead GM negotiator John Smith said "The German Government was asked by DG Competition to communicate its position on financing availability to GM and the Opel Trust Board." And Germany's Economic Minister has asked GM to also tell the EU that it chose Magna based on reason and logic.

Meanwhile, GM continues to work with Magna on finalizing issues relating to the sale. No matter what happens with the EU, GM has to work with Magna right now because Magna is making decisions for Opel, such as whether to close down an Opel plant in Zaragoza, Spain. The EUDGC will want to complete its investigation in a timely manner, since having to unwind -- or redo -- what has taken six painful months to put together would be a massive blow to all involved.

Mazda working on business case for diesels in America

Stop us if you've heard this one. A major global automaker with plans in place to increase fuel efficiency X percent by X date offers all kinds of cool diesel engines all over the world except in America. The reason? Americans don't buy diesels, they say. In this case, the automaker in question is Mazda, and the goal is to boost the fuel efficiency of its fleet of cars and trucks 30 percent by 2015.

According to Seita Kanai, head of research and development at Mazda, the Japanese automaker would need to sell at least 10,000 diesel engines in the States to make a profitable business case. Not surprisingly, Mazda is studying Volkswagen's recent success in offering diesels here in America to see if there's any chance of moving the required units.

Whatever the case, we know that Mazda has some worthwhile new powerplants that we'd love to see installed in the engine bays of products like the current Mazda3 and upcoming Mazda2.

Can you actually see – and pinpoint – a shift in the balance of power? It appears so!

The last week of September saw a momentous alliance take place between General Motors, once the most powerful company in the world, and the Bangalore based Reva Electric Car Company. This alliance, which will see the two firms co-develop electric vehicles for the Indian market, is indicative, not only of a renewed and more flexible GM, but also, at the risk of overstating it, a new world order.

Prior to the recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings for US automakers, General Motors and Chrysler, it would have been inconceivable to see a goliath such as GM partnering with a small independent firm such as Reva. And the fact that it’s happening here on Indian shores is all the more telling. Reva, of course, have persevered with electric vehicles for a decade-and-a-half – a period in which they’ve acquired a wealth of knowledge and expertise that’s about to come to very good use, as the world turns towards electric propulsion as the apparent future of the automobile.

In fact, Reva recently showcased two new models at the Frankfurt Motor Show – a first for an Indian company. And the most remarkable thing about these EVs is that they’re impressive not only under the skin, but on the surface as well – attributes that electric vehicles will clearly have to embody in equal measure if they’re to really become mainstream. And while Dilip Chhabria made the cars striking to look at, Reva packed them with some very cutting-edge technology indeed. The new Reva features highly advanced telematics that enable their customer support center to remotely extend the range of the vehicle to prevent the driver being stranded on the road – the number one concern for drivers of EVs, known as ‘range anxiety.’

In fact, largely to address the very same issue, General Motors has come up with the very innovative and highly anticipated, Chevrolet Volt, which features an electric motor that provides drive using two different sources of energy – one is a plug-in lithium-ion battery pack that propels the car on electric power alone, and the other, to prevent range anxiety, is a gasoline powered motor that acts as a generator for the electric motor when the battery loses charge, effectively making it a ‘range extender.’

Now, the Volt may be very clever, but with two power units, like a hybrid, it’s also very expensive – and that’s where Reva comes in. GM realize that there’s no time to waste this time around before jumping onto the electric car bandwagon with both hands and feet. Therefore, they want to leverage Reva technology and know-how to launch an electric version of their Spark small car in India as early as the first Quarter of next year. What’s more, they aim to ensure that the price of the car remains at comparable levels with their petrol powered versions of the same model.

When we sat down with Karl Slym, MD of GM India, a few months ago, he made it very clear that the number one priority for Indian car buyers – whether it’s someone in the market for a 2.5 lakh car or a 20 lakh car – is fuel economy. Frugality in running costs, that’s what Indian car buyers value. And we all know that every day running costs in an EV can be exceedingly low to say the least. So if Chevrolet can get the economics right, the Reva-developed electric small car could be very powerful at the end of the day.

This alliance could also conceivably give Reva the chance to use GM’s established India-wide sales and service network, which would greatly help them accelerate acceptance for their own EVs in the country – this is at a time when they’re already quite well known in the UK and Europe.

So, let’s try not think of this alliance in a small-minded way, and rejoice simply that the tables may have turned. Let’s think of it as something momentous indeed, but more in terms of it being the beginning of something far greater
Check out this link for more information about Reva car

Hot news of the week - Bentley considers going hybrid, rules out hydrogen

Bentley is on a mission to lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions. According to Auto Express, once the firm's Continental Supersports hits the market (and, we may add, after it actually becomes flex-fuel capable), the next step in the green train may very well be hybrids.

To reach that conclusion, AE uses the process of elimination. Here's the reasoning: diesels don't historically sell well here in the United States, Bentley's largest market, so an oil-burner is out. Bentley has reportedly already ruled out hydrogen fuel cells, which aren't expected to make any sort of dent in the marketplace at all until about 2015. That leaves biofuels and hybrids, which the automaker is already rumored to be testing.

If there's any truth to the report, its possible that the next Continental for the 2011 model year will feature a flex-fuel hybrid powertrain and a relatively lightweight aluminum body to reduce carbon emissions from today's 396 g/km to less than 225 g/km. Not amazing or anything, but certainly moving in the right direction

Opel will offer two factory-installed LPG models, Meriva and Corsa, in France

The least alternative of the alternative fuels – LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) – has received some good news in the expanding market in France: Opel has decided to sell two factory-converted models there. The chosen models are the Corsa and the Meriva, even though the latter will be replaced soon. The Corsa version uses a 1.2-liter gasoline engine with a 34-liter tank. The model loses some power compared to the gasoline version: horsepower drops 6.25 percent (down to 75hp) but CO2 emissions are lowered by 19 g/km: 127 g/km vs. 146 g/km with the gasoline version. The Meriva uses a converted 1.4-liter gasoline engine with a 38.4-liter tank. In this case, CO2 emissions are also lowered by 19 g/km: 129 g/km vs. 148 g/km from the standard version. Thanks to tax breaks and other green incentives, either car can be bought for €10,990