Ford First to Offer iTunes Tagging with Launch of New HD Radio

In 2010 Ford will start offering HD Radio technology with iTunes Tagging capabilities. The crystal-clear radio sound can be installed at factory level to give risk-averse customers extra piece of mind.

"iTunes Tagging and HD Radio technology are strong new additions to the growing collection of Ford convenience features and technology we're offering customers to make driving even more enjoyable," said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. "This is another example of Ford's commitment to bring the widest variety of factory-installed customer-focused technology, features and conveniences to millions of people."

Users will be able to listen to songs on the radio, tag them via the push of a ‘Tag' button, and be able to buy them at a later stage through the iTunes Store. Song titles, artist names and other information crops up on the screen as songs play. Up to 100 Tags can be stored on SYNC, waiting to be downloaded into the iPod if one is not present at the time.

CD-quality music is possible through HD when broadcast on the FM band while FM-quality can be experienced by AM band users. Additional and often exclusive and unique content can be accessed on HD systems. For example in Dallas, Texas there is now a dedicated Cowboys football team channel broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Can Ford beat the Chevy Volt two years later with a cheaper PHEV?

Will the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt and Ford Fiesta really compete with each other? Maybe not the two cars, but the underlying vehicle architectures will compete, and Greentech Media talked to Ford's chief engineer for global hybrid core engineering, Sherif Marakby, who said that his company's later, cheaper, smaller strategy will beat the competition. Ford will use the global C-segment platform (which includes the Fiesta) for its PHEV, and GM has spoken many times about using the Volt's Voltec powertrain in a variety of vehicles (see: Converj). Once the opening round goes to GM in November 2010, then things start to get a bit more interesting.

Marakby said that Ford's 2012 introduction date for its first plug-in hybrid and parallel hybrid architecture (the Volt is a series hybrid) will allow the Blue Oval's cars to be cheaper. For one thing, the batteries can be smaller. Plus, Ford isn't targeting the same 40 miles of electric range that the Volt has (maybe 20 or 30 miles?). By going the parallel hybrid route, Ford also expects to save money by use components from conventional hybrids.

Chrysler to bring electric Fiat 500, hatchback concept to Detroit

Just because Chrysler won't be holding a press conference at next month's Detroit Auto Show doesn't mean that America's third-largest automaker is coming to the party empty-handed. Far from it, in fact, assuming there's truth to the rumors that the Pentastar will be showing off both an electric version of the soon-to-be-US-bound Fiat 500 along with a Chrysler-ized version of the Lancia Delta hatchback.

While the Chrysler-branded concept is said to be nothing more than a standard-fare Delta emblazoned with Chrysler's trademark chrome fascia, the electric Fiat 500 is a bit more interesting. We've heard that the automaker's erstwhile ENVI group was disbanded and assimilated into the rest of the company's product development workforce, so we're curious to see the integration of a battery-powered drivetrain into the little urban runabout. Will it be a fully-functional vehicle or just a mock-up of what could potentially be possible?

Not surprisingly, we'll also be treated to the rest of the Fiat 500 lineup, including the 500C Cabriolet (no word on bikini-clad models) and the sporty 500 Abarth. Finally, tucked into a corner of the Chrysler booth in Detroit will also reportedly be such premium Italian machinery as the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Maserati GranCabrio. Hey... if you've got it, why not flaunt it, right?

New “Eeco” Car from Maruti Suzuki at Delhi Auto Expo

Maruti Suzuki is ready to introduce its new family car “Eeco” at the upcoming Delhi Auto Expo. The car is expected to be priced under Rs. 4 lakh. The new model has been specifically developed for the domestic market and will be powered by 1.2L petrol engine that is compliant with new BS IV norms which come into effect from April 2010.

Eeco seems to be the new replacement of Versa which failed to generate volumes for MSIL. It will have three-row and two-row seating arrangements that will be capable of seating 5 or 7 passengers. MSIL engineers have been developing the model since past three years and it will now be introduced in the C-segment. “The new car represents the growing expertise of our engineers to conceive, design and produce vehicles here. This is also in line with parent Suzuki Corp's vision of turning India into a global hub for small car research and development," said IV Rao, MSIL Managing Executive Officer (Engineering).

More details about the car will be available when the company finally launches the car at the Auto Expo in the Capital next month.

Kia Soul Ignition Special Edition Announced

The special edition 2010 Kia Ignition Soul is now available from Kia dealerships in the US. Prices start at $17,500 for the 5-speed manual. Kia throws in the standard 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty and a five-year/100,000-mile antiperforation warranty with that. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan is also included.

What makes the Ignition Soul special is its unique "ignition orange" exterior paint colour with an off-set black racing stripe for starters. Then come the black 18-inch alloy wheels with machined accents, a sporty body kit, fender vents with side marker repeaters, fog lights and an alloy fuel door.

Like the special edition Denim Soul before it, the Ignition Soul is based on the Soul+ model (which starts at $14,950) and features interior features such as carpeted floor mats, black cloth seats with Soul logo inserts, a moon roof, an iPod connection, Bluetooth connectivity and an audio package consisting of a centre speaker, a subwoofer, an external amplifier and speaker lights that pulse to the music.

Some safety features include ABS brakes with EBD, Brake Assist, a tyre pressure monitoring system and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).

Hopefully the 2010 Kia Ignition Soul shows up at the 2010 NAIAS in Detroit next month.

2010 Acura NSX to Live as Super GT Racer - Road Car Plans Still Dead

Acura's NSX supercar may rise from the dead to compete in the Super GT racing series.

According to InsideLine, Acura circumvented Super GT Series homologation rules that require race cars be based on a production vehicle. They did this by using another rule which allows production ready (but not currently in production) cars to be entered into the series. The trick appears to have worked, as series officials (the Japan Automobile Federation) have given the NSX the green light.

While details are limited, the race car is expected to be virtually identical to the production NSX that was killed off late last year. However, the NSX racer will reportedly use a 3.4-liter V8 instead of a 5.0-liter V10 which was expected in the production model.

Look for more information to be released when the 2010 racing season starts up.

Detroit 2010 Preview: Volvo C30 EV evolves for road trials

Volvo has built versions of the C30 with efficient diesel engines, plug-in hybrid powerplants, flex-fuel ICEs, and pure electric drivetrains. It's the all-electric version that will get some extra attention at the Detroit Auto Show next month with Volvo's announcement today that it will build at least 50 versions of the all-electric C30 hatchback. The cars will be made next year and are due to start real-world tests in 2011.

Volvo brought a driveable prototype version of the C30 BEV to Frankfurt earlier this year, but the machine that will be shown in Detroit is a more evolved iteration. Volvo says that the NAIAS unit has a complete interior, full instrumentation, and enhanced battery packaging.

Lennart Stegland, director of Volvo Cars Special Vehicles, said in a statement, "The first prototype helped us identify the main technological challenges, such as battery packaging and safety issues. We have addressed these challenges without compromising the C30's cool and fun-to-drive personality. I am very happy with the result. The electric C30 in Detroit is a much more complete product."

U.S. Honda Insight sales continue to stall, Japanese sales beat projections

Though the Honda Insight is handily outpacing sales projections in its home market of Japan, sales in the rest of the world are falling well short of expectations. Of the 200,000 Insights Honda had hoped to sell annually, 100,000 of those were supposed to come from the American market, 60,000 from Japan and the final 40,000 from Europe.

In reality, Honda has sold roughly 80,000 Insights in Japan but only 20,000 so far in the U.S. and another 15,000 in Europe. By way of contrast, Toyota is continuing its strong sales showing with the 2010 Prius. For the month of November, Honda sold 1,403 Insights while Toyota sold 9,617 Prius hybrids.

For what it's worth, roughly 10 percent of all cars sold in Japan are hybrids while U.S. hybrid sales, though up from previous years, struggle to crack the 3 percent barrier

Ford sends 10 Focus fuel cell vehicles to Iceland for continued testing

For the past four years Ford has been running a fleet of 30 fuel cell-powered Focus sedans in several locations throughout the United States and Canada in a program partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Those cars have accumulated more than half a million miles over that time. Testing of those cars is still ongoing, but some of the cars have recently been redeployed.

The next phase of testing begins this month in Iceland as 10 of Focuses have been shifted to the North Atlantic nation for further evaluation. Iceland has long been interested in taking advantage of hydrogen through its vast geothermal and water resources. Shell Hydrogen has been running a commercial filling station in the capital of Reykjavik for over 6 years.

Big city mayors announce C40 Electric Vehicle Network

TOKYO, December 17, 2009 - Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has signed a cooperative Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding the popularization of electric vehicles (EV) with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), a program of the William J. Clinton Foundation. The move signifies MMC's commitment to "Leading the EV era, towards a sustainable future" as laid out in its "Mitsubishi Group Environmental Vision 2020," MMC's environmental policy, part of which is to proactively collaborate with various partners in creating a pleasing and low-carbon society.

The move is also part of the C40 Electric Vehicle Network, announced on December 16 at the Climate Summit for Mayors in Copenhagen. The C40 is a group of cities that are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, of which CCI is the implementation partner. The Clinton Climate Initiative works with C40 partner cities*1 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through projects such as energy efficiency building retrofits, waste management and transportation.

Through the newly formed C40 Electric Vehicle Network, some of the world's largest cities have committed to take steps over the next year to collectively address the key areas of municipal action critical to successful introduction of electric vehicles. MMC has agreed to work together with the Clinton Climate Initiative and the C40 Electric Vehicle Network to help develop cities' electric vehicle policies, vehicle procurement and infrastructure decisions through advice on vehicle specifications, charging parameters and incentives.

MMC is committed to making progress toward its stated goal of having 20% of total production as either electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by 2020. It also introduced the new-generation MMC electric vehicle, the i-MiEV, in Japan this summer and has already delivered more than 800 of these innovative vehicles to date with plans to roll out the vehicle globally.

Major points of the MoU for cooperation between the Clinton Foundation and MMC:

* Exchange information regarding EVs
* Promote development of demand for EVs in C40 cities
* Promote the expansion of EV charging infrastructure in C40 cities
* Gather and share data on EV usage in C40 cities

*1 C40 is a group of the world's largest cities committed to tackling climate change. It includes Addis Ababa, Athens, Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Caracas, Chicago, Delhi, Dhaka, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Houston, Istanbul, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Karachi, Lagos, Lima, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Toronto, Tokyo, and Warsaw.

About the Clinton Climate Initiative:
The William J. Clinton Foundation launched the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) to create and advance solutions to the core issues driving climate change. Working with governments and businesses around the world to tailor local solutions that are economically and environmentally sustainable, CCI focuses on three strategic program areas: increasing energy efficiency in cities, catalyzing the large-scale supply of clean energy, and working to measure and value the carbon absorbed by forests. In each of these programs, CCI uses a holistic approach to address the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions and the people, policies, and practices that impact them. CCI is the delivery partner of the C40, an association of large cities around the world that have pledged to accelerate their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more about the work of the Clinton Climate Initiative and the William J. Clinton Foundation, please visit

Rendered Speculation: BMW M5 F10

The folks over at and have sent in these renderings of the upcoming BMW M5. Shown in the drawings is a mid-size four-door that many would be pleased to drive.

While we like the conceptual drawings very much, we do not think the next M5 will have such a race-ready look. Expect the front air intakes to be a bit less prominent, and the side sills to be less aggressive. After all, this is a car meant to appeal to executives, and will likely have a more conservative appearance than the drawings depict.

The upcoming BMW M5 is expected to get a 500+ horsepower turbocharged engine that produces almost 500 ft-lb of torque. BMW already uses a 4.4-liter twin-turbo on V8 that generates 555 hp and 501 ft-lb on the BMW X5/X6 M. This may be a suitable and more efficient replacement for the previously used V10. A new transmission will be paired to the engine. It will likely be similar to the seven-speed dual-clutch unit seen on the M5 25th anniversary car.

Aside from active aerodynamics, look for the car to get a carbon fiber roof, taller gearing, and LED daytime lights. The next BMW M5 is expected to debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Audi A1 - The Countdown Officially Begins

It is official: the Audi A1 will make its first sanctioned public appearance at the 2010 Geneva International Motor Show. On March 02, 2010 Audi representatives will unveil their new baby to the media. Today marked the beginning of the countdown to this important company event.

Some of the scheduled dates leading up to the unveiling include a test drive with Bayern Munich football stars on January 28, a video statement from the Human Resources Director regarding the A1 and job security on February 4, and an undated online world premier with a press kit.

The A1 is a subcompact premium hatchback aimed at the young as this promotional video implies. Featured is a street graphic artist spray painting what looks like the A1 Concept car on a wall. Funky and fun the car aims to put youthful bums on Audi seats for the first time and hopefully keep them for life.

"The new A1 has Audi design in its genes," says Stefan Sielaff, Head of Design at Audi. "Like all Audi models, the ratio of greenhouse to body is between 1:3 and 2:3. The front overhang is short, but the wheel wells are pronounced, giving the A1 a wide road stance."

Much of the design is based on the two concepts; the Metroproject Quattro of Tokyo 2007 and the A1 Sportback of Paris 2008. The designers stayed largely true to the well-received shapes, which augurs well for the final product.

"Audi is renowned for taking a lot of features of its show cars into series production. The roof arch is a unique characteristic of the Tokyo show car; there is a certain dynamism in the flow of the A- and C-pillars. An important detail for customization; that much I can tell you," said Sielaff.

Hyundai Kia Considering Kee and Veloster Coupe Production

A production version of the Kee Coupe concept could be brought to market if Kia design director Peter Schreyer has his way. In an interview with Autocar, Schreyer acknowledged that the Kee Coupe could be attractive to customers that do not currently consider the company's cars for purchase.

The designer did acknowledge that there are no immediate plans to put the car in showrooms, but a production model could get attention in 2012 or beyond. The Hyundai-owned label has not yet conducted a study to determine the car's marketability. Schreyer also noted that Kia's executive team is incredibly conservative, and would not push the car into production without a guaranteed profit.

"When you’re making cars like this, it’s important to make them with a great deal of confidence,” he said. “So I think the Kia brand has to grow a little more in stature before the time will be right for Kee."

In similar fashion, Hyundai engineers are working on an all-new Veloster, perhaps to replace the Tiburon. The Veloster would come with a 145-horsepower 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine, with a 175-hp unit also available. Bigger engines, and hybrid powertrains are also possible.

The Veloster was first shown off as a 2+2 concept at the 2007 Seoul Auto Show. If produced, it could get odd-shaped doors, and conceptual hatchback as a way of setting itself apart from other cars in the same segment. Look for pricing to be sub-$22k.

Schreyer says he would like the Kee Coupe to use a rear-driven platform, which might come from the Genesis. The company would also consider the Cee'd and Magentis platforms. Perhaps the Kia Kee Coupe will be developed in tandem with the Hyundai Veloster.

Toyota Releases Dedicated Hybrid Concept Teasers

Toyota has announced they will showcase a new hybrid concept car at the 2010 North American International Auto Show. No official details have been given but speculation describes the compact car as being smaller than the Prius and will go into production as early as 2011.

Incidentally Toyota made two announcements regarding new cars in recent days. One was that a concept slotting below the Yaris would debut at the 2010 Auto Expo Automobile Show in New Delhi. Secondly, it said a new plug-in hybrid would begin selling globally from 2011. Traditionally Toyota has only built regular hybrid systems for models such as the Camry, Prius, Highlander, as well as certain Lexus cars.

A plug-in Prius hybrid did appear at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Toyota plans to lease 500 of these to government and corporate customers in the United States, Europe and Japan starting later this month. Public sales are scheduled for 2011 with volumes expected to reach "tens of thousands".

Competitors are not planning on being left out of the mass-market "green" race either. General Motors wants to sell about 60,000 Chevrolet Volts from next year, Volkswagen has plans pertaining to plug-in hybrids and Nissan commences sales of the all-electric Leaf in 2010.

Norway's Hydrogen Highway gets an electric back road

Back in May, 30 teams driving pure electric and hydrogen vehicles participated in the EVS Viking Rally from Oslo to Stavanger, Norway to mark the 24th Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS) and the opening of the Hynor Hydrogen Road. For 2010, the event is changing its name to the Zero Emission Rally (see?) and will again feature plug-in hybrids, EVs and H2 cars. Instead of sticking to the main roads as it did in 2009, the 2010 route will send the vehicles on smaller back roads. Tipster and translator Finn S. says that there is no explanation in the Norwegian article on BilNorge about whether these rural areas have been outfitted with hydrogen refueling stations or high-speed EV recharging infrastructure. During a California-to-Canada hydrogen car rally earlier this year, the organizers brought the hydrogen along in big tanker trucks.

Planet Positive looks for your 2020 Visions of a low carbon world

2020 Visions
"I'd like to eat less and less meat, I'm doing my best but I haven't cut it out altogether."
Lord Nicholas Stern, Academic and Author of the Stern Review
"I wish for all nations to come together to have one vision. I wish for us to go back to living our ancestors' lives, to own our land, to have trees. Indigenous peoples are really affected by climate change so I urge all nations to come together to have one voice."
Moses Mopel Kisosion, Member of the Massai Tribe in Kenya
"I barely use the car, I travel by public transport and I turn the thermostat down a degree or two, though my wife is Spanish and she has an affection for warmer homes than I do!"
Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrats Leader

LONDON 14th December 2009: Celebrities, business leaders, environmentalists, politicians and school kids around the world have been communicating their hopes for life on earth by 2020 as part of a new campaign called 2020 Vision. The campaign, launched by Planet Positive, an international environmental mark for a better way of living, on, aims to reposition climate change as an opportunity to create a better way of living by presenting positive yet realistic views of a low carbon world.

The campaign was launched this week in the UK and has already been supported by celebrities such as Bianca Jagger, business leaders from M&S, ASDA, Barclays Bank, Eurostar, British Airways and every major UK political party. Environmentalists and scientists have also offered their visions including Lord Nicholas Stern, Sir Jonathan Porritt, Dr Pachauri (Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and Zac Goldsmith, director of the Ecologist.

The campaign provides people with the chance to provide their view of the future via online movies, illustrations or written word. The website allows anyone anywhere in the world to view visions and upload their own, stimulating debate around climate change. A group of school children's pictures of how their lives could look by 2020 sit alongside business leaders, politicians, designers and celebrities.

The 2020 Vision website also provides people with reassurance and clarity on the innovation, infrastructure and products that will help them shift into low carbon, more sustainable lifestyles. Ten website sections provide information on key areas of our lives such as Home, Energy, Food, Water, Travel, Transport, Communication and Entertainment.

Steve Malkin, CEO of Planet Positive, said: "The next 10 years are critical for climate change. We want to provide a clear, positive view of how our lives can be better by acting on climate change. You can see the 2020 Visions of business leaders, politicians, scientists and celebrities through to school kids and upload your own 2020 Vision."

The 2020 Vision campaign has been created by the Planet Positive Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, focused on inspiring action on climate change and helping people reduce their environmental impact. Planet Positive recently screened a number of visions at Copenhagen, and was able to collect unique visions from indigenous peoples representing countries from all over the world.

Planet Positive is an environmental mark that certifies that a business, product or person is actively engaged in reducing their carbon emissions. The mark is based on a 4-step process of Measure, Reduce, Act and Report as laid out in the Planet Positive Protocol. Planet Positive certification has been adopted by companies such as M&S, who are constructing a Planet Positive building, and Atomic, who have created a Planet Positive certified ski boot.

Chevy Volt dance to go with song

"E for electricity, V for Chevy Volt and me..." Catchy little diddy, we admit. That said, we were mostly willing to let the Chevy Volt song make the deep, dark trek into obscurity with nary another mention here on our pages. That is, until today. What made us change our tune, you ask? Boy, are you in for a treat.

Witness the Chevy Volt dance. Yes, it is an official routine commissioned by GM. Showgoers that meandered near the GM area at the LA Auto Show may already be familiar with this little number, but the video is just too "good" not to share with the rest of the class. We especially like it when the four-person crew stops whatever they're doing to throw us an "E" and a "V."

Trust us. You owe it to yourself to click past the break and watch the video. Here's hoping The General antes up to send these dancers around the country for the rest of the auto show circuit.


Please Do Not Drool on the Electric Audi

LOS ANGELES — The Audi e-tron is to electric cars as dynamite is to fishing. There’s no other way to explain an EV with all-wheel drive, impressive power and absolutely absurd torque.
“Here it is - the future of electric mobility,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, marketing and sales board member of Audi, said as the e-tron made its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
With four motors producing 313 horsepower and 3,319 foot-pounds of torque, the future looks very bright indeed. And it could be here by 2012.
Although the e-tron looks like a converted R8, Schwarzenbauer says it was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle. Simply ditching the R8’s engine and installing a battery pack and a motor (or four) wasn’t an option, he said, because different propulsion technologies require different platforms if you are to maximize performance and handling.
The e-tron uses two motors per axle; they get their juice from a 42.4 kilowatt-hour liquid-cooled lithium ion battery with a claimed range of 154 miles. That’s it as far as specs go - Audi isn’t saying anything more. Asked why the car has such ridiculous torque, Schwarzenbauer smiled and said, “We want to have fun.”
Electric cars are all the rage right now with just about everyone working on one. Audi is the latest to join the party, but Schwarzenbauer says the company has been working on it for awhile now. “It’s not something we started yesterday,” he said. “Five years ago we began to dream of this car. It shows what is possible, and that an electric car can be very, very emotional.”
Schwarzenbauer says the e-tron will see “limited production” by the end of 2012, though he would not say how many cars Audi might build. It remains to be seen how closely such a vehicle will hew to the concept, and whether Audi will retain the four-motor set-up or use something more conventional. Whatever the case, the e-tron will be the first of several electric vehicles we’ll see from Audi, with another model coming by 2013 or 2014.
“This is our first electric vehicle and a stepping stone to our first series production EV,” Schwarzenbauer said. “We are going to have a whole range of electric cars, including small electric cars.”

The wheels look a lot better in person, but they’re still completely over the top. Kinda like the drivetrain.

We can picture ourselves spending a lot of time there.

No one seems to know what that is, besides extraneous decoration. A window would be much better.

Even the door sills are high-tech.

It’s hard to go wrong with leather and brushed aluminum. Lots and lots of it.

The e-tron uses cameras instead of mirrors because it looks cooler. Concept cars are all about looking cool.

That’s a whole lotta grille. But it matches the wheels