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.