Ferrari 458 Italia design rendering by ASI - 640

Japanese tunere ASI is used to taking on risky projects. They have attacked many already-high priced cars, and tried to make them better. Previous cars they have modified include the Bentley Continental GT, called the ASI Tetsu GTR, and the Ferrari 430.

Company CEO Satoshi Kondo has announced that his team of engineers are hard at work on their latest project: an aerokit for the Ferrari 458 Italia. Kondo authorized the release of these sketches, well in advance of the final prototyping, in effort to prevent future accusations of design theft.

A new front end is amongst the expected design changes, featuring with a new nose, larger hexagonal air intakes, and vents in front of the blacked-out wheels. The sketches also show a new wing mounted at the back.

If the company's mods on the F430 are any indication, do not expect a retuned engine. Instead, look for the new body parts to shave weight when compared to the old parts. The ASI F430 received a 27kg weight reduction when it was introduced in June.

Avant Concept: Buick's new look at the small premium market

Need further proof that the premium car market is looking to downsize? General Motors' latest entry on its recently-launched Lab website is the Buick Avant, which the automaker developed to study the future of scaled down models for its upper-level brands.

Innovative ideas abound with the Buick Avant Concept, including doors that can both swing and slide open, a driver's seat that moves laterally to customize interior packaging, a luggage shelf that brings packages to you and a so-called micro pergola roof that can be either opaque or transparent depending on the driver's wishes.

Citroën preparing low-cost brand

Citroën is apparently going in both directions with its new range of upscale models, the DS series, and a new rumored line called "essentiele" (essential). The essential line could take the concepts in the C-Cactus model and turn it into a complete low-cost range of cars. The idea is a return to how the automaker marketed vehicles in the 1950s, when the humble 2CV and the DS were on the market at the same time. Let's not forget, too, that rival Renault's most successful product in the recent years is the entire Dacia lineup. The C-Cactus, designed to be lighter and have fewer pieces, could be lower-end in the low-carbon sense as well. The French newspaper La Tribune also mentions the possibility of hybrid versions of the cheaper Citroën line, surely borrowed from sibling marque Peugeot. The range is expected to be launched worldwide in 2012-13.

Tata to Close Jaguar or Land Rover Factory in UK by 2014

Tata Motors announced today plans to close one of two Central England Januar Land Rover facilities within the next five years. The Indian-based Tata said they will likely close either the Jaguar plant in Castle Bromwich, where 2,000 people work, or the Land Rover plant in Solihull, which houses 5,000 jobs.

The official announcement, and which facility is cut, will be announced by July 2010. The two sites are separated by about eight miles.

It was not all bad news for the two English brands. The company owns a factory in Halewood, Northwest England, which will begin expansion by 2011. That site was chosen to be the home of a diminutive SUV supposedly based on the Land Rover LRX concept, which was confirmed for production today.

2009 has been a particularly bad year for the firm. 2,500 jobs have already been cut at Jaguar Land Rover, while production has been decreased by over 100,000 units in 2009 alone.

The decision to close one of the Central England sites was to stem red ink. Jaguar Land Rover lost about $100 million (pre-tax) in the last quarter. Vehicle sales for the last quarter were down roughly 52% versus the previous year. Because of the decreased demand, the three factories are running at a combined total of less than 60% capacity.

In 2008, Tata paid $2.3 billion to Ford for Land Rover and Jaguar.