Saturday, November 28, 2009

Missed: The future of Cyrsler/Fiat - REPORT

While we were off, Fiat announced what were they going to do with Chrysler, now they own it. Of course, Fiat CEO - Sergio Marchionne, said this future plans for Chrysler is for the next 5 years. So here goes:

Starting off with the loans that the U.S Government has given Chrysler, Marchionne promised that by 2014, Chrysler would have payed all their $12.4 million loans, and even generated a profit of $5 billion. Chrysler say that they have $5.7 million in-hand.

Chrysler will also be the Fiat's channel to come to U.S. showrooms, as Fiat announced their 500 will be available in U.S. Chrysler dealers in 2010. Also, rebadged Chrysler vehicles (Chrysler 300 to go as Dancia, and Caliber to go as Fiat) will go on sale in Europe within the next year or two. Which hints the reason why Chrysler will be building smaller-sized cars, with fewer V8 engines, and more fuel-efficient 4-cylinders.

Starting with the Chrysler brand, the brand will be getting an all-new logo (image right). Next year, the brand will present the redesigned Sebring and 300 sedans, while in 2012, a new Fiat-based compact sedan will join the range., In 2013, Chrysler will get three new products based on Fiat platforms, including a Fiat Group sourced small car (most likely the Fiat Punto), a successor to the Sebring and a new midsize crossover. An all-new Chrysler-developed Town and Country minivan will be presented in 2014.

Moving to Chrysler's Dodge brand, Marchionne announced the official split of the brand into two cores - Dodge car brand, and Ram Truck brand. As for the car brand, Dodge will be unveiling refreshed versions of the Avenger and Journey, along with a fully redesigned Charger (teaser image right) sedan and a new fullsize CUV. The Nitro will receive a facelift in 2011, as will the Challenger pony car, while the Viper will be freshened up in 2012, and will only produce 500 more units. The same year will see the introduction of a new Fiat-based compact sedan that will replace the Caliber which will be discontinued after 2012. Dodge will get yet two more Fiat-based models, a small car and a replacement for the Avenger sedan. The Grand Caravan will be replaced with a new model in 2014.

As for Ram Truck brand, plans include the possible presentation of a new mid-size pickup truck based on a car platform in 2011, and the launch of Fiat-based small and large commercial vans in 2012. Furthermore, the company said that it will discontinue the production of the Dakota in mid-2011.

And finally, Jeep. In 2010, aside from the market launch of the new Grand Cherokee, the Patriot, Compass, Wrangler and Liberty will be freshened. The following year, the Wrangler will receive another update including a new interior. 2013 will see the Jeep brand receiving three new models based on Fiat platforms including a small SUV, a common replacement for the Patriot and Compass, and a new Liberty. The Commander will most likely be dropped off in 2011.

So what do you think? Can this 5-year business plan really change the fate of Chrysler, and the American auto-manufacturing business? Well tell us what you think in the comments below.

Source: [Chrysler via Autoblog and egmCarTech]

Missed: Highlights of 2009 Tokyo Motor Show

We're back! However, we've missed out quite a lot. So we're starting off quick! Here goes:

Although the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show reveals have ended for some time now, we can still cover it up. Well the Japanese doors have closed, and we could happily say that this was one of the best shows to come out of Tokyo in the last several years. Previously, the show was mainly about futuristic concepts that actually have no future as retail cars. This year, there's still a handful of concepts, but with big promises to come to productions, as well as some really cool sportscars.

* 2010 Alpina BMW B7 BiTurbo: Alpina is best known for spicing-up BMWs. Well now, they got they're hands on a 2010 BMW 750iL, and look what they've done to it! Extended body-kit, 21-inch bespoke Alpina wheels, a sporty lip-spoiler, and oh; a tuned-up twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8, that now makes 507 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Alpina say that this big Bimmer can hit 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds!

* 2010 Caterham CSR 175: Although Caterham lightweight sportscars may seem very basic and traditional, they're actually somewhat expensive. To put it bluntly, a top-range CSR 260 costs well over $50,000; and that is just way too expensive for a roadster that only offers very little in terms of daily-drivability. Well, the folks at Caterham have decided to add a buttom rug, that to make owning a Caterham more affordable. So, here it is; the CSR 175. As the name suggests, this little superlight roadster develops 175 hp from a Ford-sourced 2.3L Duratec 4-cylinder engine. For a car that weighs less than 1,000 kilograms, this thing can still accelerate like a proper supercar! With that little weight and a stiff chassis like all Chaterhams, it also handles like a LeMans' racecar as well.

* 2009 Honda Skydeck Concept: Honda say that this concept could be the next-generation Honda Odyssey. Of course though, the scissor doors, the futuristic thin seats, and the screens all around the dashboard won't come in the next Odyssey. Nonetheless, Honda claims that the Odyssey will share inspiration with the Skydeck Concept in terms of styling, and the hybrid drivetrain.

* 2009 Honda CR-Z Concept: Although it shares its name with the 2007 CR-Z Concept, this CR-Z is actually a pre-production vehicle that will hit showrooms next year, and the successor to the old ricer-legend CR-X. The new CR-Z mimics some styling cues of the CR-X, but in a up-scale look. As for power, Honda said that the CR-Z will be more powerful than the CR-X, and therefore, faster. However, the new CR-Z will be more -wait for it- economical! How? The new CR-Z will be powered by a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine, mated to a battery-powered electric hybrid powertrain. What's very clever here, that it features a world first. The new CR-Z will be the world's first hybrid to have a shift-yourself 6-speed manual transmission! Unfortunately, we probably won't hear any official numbers on the drivetrain's output or its mileage until closer to lunch in 2010.

* 2010 Lexus LFA: It's been 3 years of non-stop teasing and fully-camouflaged spy shots, but nothing prepare us for this - the 2010 Lexus LFA. It's finally here, and here very strong. So why create a $375,000 supercar in this time of year? Well, Toyota say that this is to upscale the image of Lexus even more. It's also one really fast supercar! Weighing in at 3,263 pounds, the front-mounted 4.8L V10, which produces 560 hp at a screaming 9000 rpms and 354 lb-ft of torque, can sprint to 60 mph in a 'wow' 3.7 seconds, and will continue up to 202 mph. Controlling that power, is a 6-speed sequential transmission, which sends power to the rear-wheels only. Moreover, driving the LFA will excite even more with a one-off bespoke Lexus interior with screen gauges, and a two-tone leather interior with shades of carbon-fiber. So then, if you got $375,000 in your wallet, better behave fast, since Lexus will only produce 500 units. And that, makes the Lexus LFA, the only real supercar to come from Japan!

* 2009 Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV: In its main-steam products, the Outlander is probably Mitsubishi's most successful crossover. So, it makes sense in Tokyo show, that Mitsubishi hints on the next-generation Outlander, with this Concept PX-MiEV. Mitsubishi say that the PX-MiEV scores a new design direction for them, which is 'refinement'. So all shapes inside and out look somewhat edgy, and elegant at the same time. Nonetheless, Mitsubishi's real score is in the drive-train, as this PX-MiEV has a 1.6L petrol engine connected to a battery-powered electric engine, making this Mitsubishi's first hybrid crossover. If you really like what you see here, then you should get excited for the next-gen Outlander.

* 2010 Nissan GT-R: It just looks exactly identical to the 2008 GT-R; so what's the change? For 2010, Nissan has fettled the suspension setup (front shocks and springs have been tweaked for increased "accuracy", and the rear-suspension has been stiffened), fitted higher-flow cats to the exhaust system for improved low- and mid-range response, and they've also added a next-generation hard-drive based navigation system that includes iPod connectivity. What's move, the twin-turbocharged 3.8L V6 gets a 5 hp increase, making the total of 485 hp. However, the most significant difference in the revised GT-R, is the price tag; now starting at around $80,000. So it isn't the cheap supercar anymore!

* 2009 Nissan Land Glider Concept: Nissan CEO - Carlos Ghosn - surprised all Tokyo Motor Show audience with this - 2009 Land Glider Concept. Why this big fuss? Well first off, it looks kind of weird - the motorcycle-like horizontal two-seater setup in a car is still unfamiliar. Also like a motorcycle, the Land Glider leans up to 17 degrees to handle a corner. Powering the Land Glider is a clever electric engine, which features a non-contact charging system, meaning that drivers won't have to fiddle with any plugs, they can just pull into designated charging spaces. Moreover, because the Land Glider is lightweight, and the electric engine is torquey, Nissan say that this concept will be pretty quick for an electric vehicle. However, the biggest surprise of all, that Ghosn said this is not some 20-year lifetime concept, and that the Land Glider will come into production some time next year!

* 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Carbon: When this new-gen Impreza WRX STi came in the new hatchback styling, many criticized it that it just became a softy. So, Subaru went back to the drawing board, and came up with this new special version - the WRX STi Carbon edition. Carbon edition brings down the center of gravity, with a carbon fiber-made roof. What's more, to make it compete with its Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, the WRX STi Carbon has a 5-speed automatic with paddle-shifters. Subaru say that the 305 hp 2.5L turbocharged flat-4 will still crack 60 mph in a mere 4.8 seconds.

* 2009 Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept: Subaru isn't really known for producing any kind of minivans. So what are they saying about this Hybrid Tourer Concept? It's Subaru's first attempt to design a sporty-look-like minivan. The Hybrid Tourer Concept also spots gullwing doors, and a hybrid drivetrain with Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive system and a Lineatronic CVT transmission.

* 2009 Suzusho Supasse-V: Never heard of Suzusho? Well we didn't hear of them either! However, Japan is full of local automakers that don't seem to oversea their vehicles. Well this Supasse-V is a Japanese race-car for the road! Looking like a race-car, it also has some race-car potentials. Powered by a Mazda-sourced 2.3L turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder, and a 6-speed manual, the Supasse-V weighs only 850 kilograms. That hints the reason why it can sprint to 60 mph in an astonishing 4 seconds.

* 2009 Toyota FT-86 Concept: The good-old days of drifting an '86 Corolla are back! With this - FT-86 Concept. They say it's a concept, but this is a pre-production mule, which will come to showrooms sometime in 2011. It's a combination of a sexy Toyota 2-door body that channels back some '80s throwbacks, and a 2.0L flat-4 engine from Subaru. Get this though; the FT-86 sends power to the rear-wheels only, through a 6-speed manual! Toyota also say that the chassis is equipped with a limited-slip differential, and designed with drifting in-mind. So Toyota, welcome back to the glory days of fun!

* 2010 Toyota Mark X: There are some Japanese cars that we really want to see them overseas, because we think they could be successful. Here's an example - the Toyota Mark X. What makes the Mark X so special that it's about the best Toyota sedan we encountered with. While it looks like a Camry or an Avalon outside and inside, it's actually a Lexus GS underneath! Yes, this Mark X is rear-wheel-drive Toyota sports-sedan! Powered by either a 203 hp 2.5L V6, or a 315 hp 3.5L V6, the 6-speed automatic transmission in both engines comes with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. So please Toyota, throw-out the cheesy Avalon, and bring us the 'real' sporty Mark X with the healthy 315hp V6.

Here's our cover of the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Motor Gears on a temporary "vacation" phase - will be back end of November -

Many of you have noticed lately, that our news are somewhat "outdated". In fact, for an automotive blog like us, we've been slowing things down. So we are not going to admit that everything is OK. We've been facing some problems with the blog itself, and we're planning on a new structure of the blog. Therefore, Motor Gears will go on a temporary "vacation", and will not post any new news for the time being. We're really sorry for this, but will be back running in full speed, sometime end of November. Don't worry, will post everything you and us missed during this time!

We apologize again for this inconvenience.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Report : Aston Martin Cygent to start production in 2010, with prices start at $32,000

The global economic and enviromental down-turn has put a big dent on a sports car makers. This is to be seen in many automakers like Porsche, and Aston Martin. As we saw earlier this year, Aston have teased their new city car - Cygent Concept, which is basically a re-badged Toyota iQ. Well, the falling British company says that this concept has plans to go into real production!

Automotive News has reports that Aston Martin have already started producing test-mules of the tiny Cygent city car, and it will be on sale next year. Aston Martin says that their Cygent “will offer customers a distinctive, intelligent and exclusive solution for urban travel in style and luxury” and is “based on the critically acclaimed Toyota iQ with a Euro NCAP 5-star safety package.”

Toyota will be shipping assembled iQ units to Aston’s Gaydon, England plant. Aston will then upgrade the interior and exterior while leaving the mechanicals alone (1.3L, 100 hp, and FWD). Aston Martin say that the Cygent will be sold to customers who already own Aston, but want a practical everyday commuter. Which is why the Cygent will cost around $32,000, or double the price of a Toyota iQ.

Source : [Automotive News]

New Reveal : 2011 Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle

Cops always demand rigid, capable, and yet cheap rear-wheel-drive, full-size sedans. That's exactly the reason why police departments - worldwide - have been buying Ford Crown Victorias for over a decade now. Lately though, new comers like the Dodge Charger Police car have been around, but yet couldn't offer what the Victoria does best. However, Chevrolet want to come into play, and here's their new offering - the 2011 Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle. Police department all around the U.S. will be getting Caprice PPVs in mid 2010.

Yes, the Caprice is back! Wait, GM said that this all-new Caprice is currently sold only to police departments, but they are considering a retail production edition if impressions are good. This new Caprice is actually so new, that now, it's not American at all! The 2011 Caprice Police is actually a rebadged Holden Statesman, which is actually a stretched long-wheel-base version of the Holden Commodore, which has the original Zeta-platform, that the Pontiac G8, and Chevrolet Lumina aslo have. For your information, this Caprice Police Patrol is exactly the same Chevrolet Caprice being sold in the Middle East. So it looks like a G8 - all the muscular fenders, the aggressive headlights, the quality interior, and sport-bucket seats. This police car looks way more "bad-ass" than the old-school Victoria does.

Of course, the main feature behind this Caprice PPV, that it has the rear-drive Zeta-platform, which underpins the new 2010 Camaro, the Cadillac CTS, and the surely, the beloved G8. So with that platform, the Caprice PPV should drive like a sports-sedan. A police car has to have a responsive, yet an efficient V8 engine. For the Caprice, it gets the Australian-built 'L98' 6.0L V8, with 355 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, plus an Active Fuel Management, which can cut cylinders when they aren't needed. Connected to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic, the Caprice PPV will hit 60 mph in under 6 seconds, which is certainly way faster than the Crown Vic police car. To make it more capable and reliable at high speeds, GM adds some police specific upgrades, like a high-output alternator, engine oil, transmission and power steering coolers, 18-inch steel wheels with bolt-on center caps, larger four-wheel disc brakes with heavy-duty brake pads, heavy-duty suspension components, police-calibrated stability control system.

Source : [Chevrolet]

Monday, October 12, 2009

RumorMill : 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 to get a twin-turbo 5.0L V8, making 600 hp, and called Road Runner !

It's been a real while, since the Ford Mustang has gotten a real refresh, specially under the hood. Yes, it just had its styling rechange for 2010, but under that power-dome hood, it's still basically the same as the last generation, and the generation before that as well. Even the mighty tuners at Shelby, have gotten a bit lazy lately. The new 2010 Shelby GT500 is surely one tough muscle car, but Shelby only added a couple of modifications to add some extra horsepowers.

Now though, the folks at Ford finally gave the lights to new engines to the Mustang. I'm not talking about Ford's latest EcoBoost engine, but official reports have said that next year's 2011 Mustang will have a new 315 hp 3.7L V6 as base, and the longly-awaited 5.0L Coyote V8 will make into the GT model, packing around 400 hp. Well, as the new changes are going around to the Mustang, so has to the GT500.

Sources say that along with the new 5.0L Coyote V8 in the 2011 Mustang GT, Shelby engineers are throwing away the 540 hp iron-block supercharged 5.4L V8, in-favor of a new twin-turbocharged version of the Coyote, called Road Runner. The new Road Runner V8 engine is expected to produce around 600 hp. However, moving to a twin-turbo system, is a big and risky step to Shelby. After all, GT500-fanatics always adored the supercharger whine! Nonetheless, 600 horses on a Mustang will surely be fantastic.

Ford announced that it will reveal the whole in-line of 2011 Mustang engines, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. For truth-waiters, LA Show is less than a month away, so stay tuned.

Source : [] - Photo: [Inside Line]

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Video : IIHS celebrates 50th anniversary by crashing a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu into a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air

Celebrating their 50th anniversary, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) wanted to showcase what 50 years has done to car safety. They've exactly done that, by a crash-test. Though this is not the usual crash-test.

The folks at IIHS have decided to head-crash a modern 2009 Chevrolet Malibu, into a vintage 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air. So 50 years seperate these two cars. The results were eye-opening from the video (watch below). Both cars were going the same speed, making the impact the same, on both driver sides. However, with Malibu's new "H frame" structual body shell, the chassis wasn't colapsed, and therefore, the driver and the passengers would walk out in this situation. The Bel Air on the other hand, doesn't have any type of modern body frame (just tough metal), the whole chassis and shell was altered. And you can clearly see, that the front of that Malibu actually entered into the Bel Air's cabin, making the driver's and passenger's situation terrible and outright life-threatening.

In essence, this video was done to show everyone - who still believes that old cars are safer - the truth about new modern car safety.

Source : [IIHS via YouTube]

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Report : Penske walks away from Saturn deal, and GM forced to kill Saturn brand !

No matter how ready you are expected to hear bad news, it'll always be a shock. Back last summer, when General Motors was crying for some extra cash, it was reported that their Saturn barnd will be sold to Penske Automotive Group. While that was certainly good news, Penske and GM went through a lot of discussion sessions about the supply, maintinance, and labor.

Well after months of discussion, Penske announced that it's mostly worried on future supply of vehicles, and therefore their negotiations with GM about the purchase of Saturn have been canceled. “Since announcing its discussions with GM on June 5, 2009, the company has been in the due diligence process to determine the feasibility of developing an independent distribution model for Saturn-branded products and service parts in the United States, including the sourcing of vehicles from GM and other potential suppliers,” Penske said in a statement. “The company had negotiated a definitive agreement with GM to source vehicles on a contract-manufactured basis for a period of time.”

On GM's side, CEO Fritz Henderson announced that the Saturn brand will be "winding down" the brand, until Saturn finds a new owner. “This is very disappointing news and comes after months of hard work by hundreds of dedicated employees and Saturn retailers who tried to make the new Saturn a reality,” GM CEO Fritz Henderson said in a statement. However, Henderson also stated that customers can still buy Saturn vehicles in dealers, and owners can still have their vehicles serviced. GM is determinded that no jobs will be lost, even after the death of Saturn.

Source : [Penske Automotive Group, General Motors]

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Reveal : 2011 Ford Super Duty

These are dark days in the pick-up truck segment, as automakers are ditching big engines, wide-track tires, and tough suspension; in-favor for small eco-friendly engines that don't offer enough power, road-comfort tires that lack grip, and messy suspension that can't be shakened to off-road. So trucks these days are more to go to the shops, rather than a clear-off desert or a mountainy forest. However, there's one big exception: Ford. Ford has proved with their new F-150 Raptor SVT, that there's still hope in tough truck market. Well, to complete the circle, Ford has finally dropped official pictures and info on the all-new 2011 Ford Super Duty.

With a name like Super Duty, Ford's designers weren't going to come-up with something soft. Therefore, the style of the Super Duty is very bulky and tough. Just take a look at the face; the grille and headlights are largest units on any truck, ever! At first glance, they do look a bit odd, but it's something you'd get used to by the time. At back, it's gets classic F-150 styling. After all, this is a highly durable truck, so the styling needs to be technical. Inside, it's get more tech, as it features a 4.2 inch infotainment screen located on the center of the gauge cluster. The screen provides specific truck specifications, such as Trailer Brake Control and Tow Haul. Plus, the Super Duty offers feature comforts like a somewhat luxury truck - top noch leather seats, wood-trim on the dashboard and on the door handles, a 110-volt power inverter, and some-nicely large cup-holders with an open glove-box.

2011 Super Duty is arriving in days where a big-block engine, is not environmentally acceptable; but Ford engineers seem not to care. As the new Super Duty will feature a petrol-powered Boss 6.2L V8, which makes around 400 hp. The optional engine is the all-new Scorpion 6.7L turbocharged diesel V8, which power is also around 400 hp, but torque will be cracking at over 600 lb-ft of torque. Despite the big sizes, Ford claim that fuel-economy has improved over the outgoing model. These engines are connected through a 6-speed TorqShift automatic, with manual shift controls. The chassis is available with either rear-wheel-drive, and four-wheel-driver. When opt for the four-wheel-drive, the Super Duty gets an Electronic Locking Differential, and Live Drive PTO (Power Take Off) feature. Live Drive PTO allows the engine to power auxiliary equipment like snow plows, cement mixers and tow truck lifts directly through the transmission. With that considered, the 2011 Ford Super Duty truck, should offer world-class truck driving in all truck aspects.

Source : [Ford]

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Reveal : 2011 Hyundai Sonata

Writing about main-stream mid-size family sedans is actually easy, and that's simply because they are all nearly identical. The Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and even the new Chevrolet Malibu are all somewhat copies of each other. Hyundai was doing the same trick with their Sonata. Now though, with Hyundai aiming on luxury brands, like what they have done in their new Genesis, the all-new 2011 Sonata gets a new character, but still quite sensible underneath.
Exterior Design:
You like it, right? Yes, that is the new 2011 Hyundai Sonata, and it finally looks appealing! Whereas in the older days, a Sonata was a copy of an Accord, the new Sonata with its new "fluidic scupture" style theme, it's now more like a Volkswagen Passat CC. The 4-door coupe roof-line is straight out of the CC, and the headlights and taillights are stretched like in the CC. We have to say; trying to compete with Volkswagen in design is actually not such a bad thing.
Interior Design:
With the interior, Hyundai also raised the bar for their quality, and wanting to aim of those with Lexus and Infiniti. This is clearly evident in the center navigation screen, which seems taken off from the Infiniti G37. On the other hand, the whole design of the interior, does have a Lexus look to it. Again, it's great that Hyundai are raising the standards for main-stream front-wheel-drive mid-size family sedans, and we hope the interior actually feels as good as it looks.

Hyundai engineers want to be clever about the powertrain. They don't want those coupish-looks, and the luxury-state interior, to be "spoiled" off by a big gas-guzzling engine, because that's not what customers want nowadays. In its home market and Europe, the 2011 Sonata will have a 2.0L 4-cylinder base engine. The rest of us, will be the 2.4L Theta II GDI petrol engine, which will develop around 180 hp. Hyundai didn't announce the V6 version of this Sonata, but they claim they're working on it. All engine are hatched to a 6-speed automatic transmission, with Vehicle Dynamic Control, Hill-start Assist Control. and Brake Assist System come as standard.
As Hyundai is launching the new 2011 Sonata in Korea, prices start at 21.3 million Won to 25.95 million Won ($17,600 to $21,450 U.S.D). Hyundai said that it expected to sell 450,000 units annually in all markets.

Source : [Hyundai]

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