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.