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Archive for March, 2012

Chevy Says “Gogo” With Low-Cost App-Based Nav System

Spark and Sonic will be first to get smartphone-based navi.

by on Mar.29, 2012

Chevrolet's GogoLink is a new smartphone app-based nav system that GM says will provide full-featured navigation with traffic updates at less than the cost of traditional navigation.

The traditional – and expensive – in-car navigation system is about to move one step closer to extinction.

Chevrolet will introduce GogoLink, a navigation system that connects with the owner’s smartphone and displays maps and directions on a car’s touchscreens. It will first appear in the 2013 Chevrolet Spark and Sonic — but could eventually migrate to other models in the Chevrolet and broader General Motors line-up.

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The new system works through Chevrolet’s new MyLink infotainment system.  General Motors calls Gogolink an embedded smartphone app and claims it delivers “full-function navigation.” The automaker will formally reveal it next week at the New York Auto Show.

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First Look: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse

A family resemblance.

by on Mar.29, 2012

The design of the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse update picks up familial cues from the new Chevy Malibu.

Chevrolet will continue its total brand remake with a pair of important introductions at the upcoming New York Auto Show.  While we’ll have to wait a week for a closer look at the new Impala sedan, the biggest of the General Motors brands invited a handful of reporters in for a sneak peek at the updated 2013 Chevy Traverse.

As brand boss Chris Perry lifted the covers it was readily apparent that the new, 3-row crossover shares more than a passing resemblance to the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, the Traverse sharing the midsize sedan’s new face, including the lower-profile headlamps and three-bar grille.  The liftgate has also been updated and results in a more appealing, if a bit more conventional crossover-style rear end.

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The interior, meanwhile, is more refined and lavishly finished.  But what may appeal just as much to the sort of families who need an 8-seater is the long-list of standard and optional safety features offered on the 2013 Chevy Traverse.  That includes blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert – and the world’s first front-center airbag, designed to reduce injuries in the event of a side-impact collision.

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Ford to Launch Performance Sport Version of Explorer

Muscle with mileage.

by on Mar.28, 2012

The 2013 Ford Explorer Sport will deliver 350 hp and up to 22 mpg on the highway.

Gas may be inching ever closer to an all-time record but Ford Motor Co. is betting there are still plenty of buyers who want performance as well as high mileage.  With the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport, it’s hoping to deliver both.

Scheduled for a formal unveiling at the New York Auto Show next week, Ford lifted the covers to provide a sneak peek at the performance SUV, which will deliver muscle car levels of acceleration using a turbocharged V-6 rather than a conventional V-8 – which Ford abandoned when it introduced an all-new version of the Explorer for the 2011 model-year.

“We’re confident there are people out there who still want the extra horsepower – but want to do it in a smart way,” said marketing manager Eric Peterson.

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Instead of the traditional big-block V-8, the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport turns to the maker’s turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine which makes 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.  That’s in line with competitors like the more up-market Ranger Rover Sport, at 375 hp, and the similarly priced, Hemi V-8-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee, at 360 hp.

According to Ford, the Explorer Sport will turn 0 to 60 in about 6.0 seconds, or a full two seconds faster than the normally aspirated V-6 version of the SUV.

The Explorer Sport will rely on a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 rather than the old Explorer's big, gas-guzzling V-8.

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Ford Planning Diesel for New Transit Van

Maker also putting emphasis on CNG and LPG.

by on Mar.28, 2012

Already popular in many parts of the world, the Ford Transit van will arrive in the U.S. in 2014.

Ford Motor Co. says it expected to boost the fuel economy of its large work vans by 25% when it migrates to an all-new design next year.  A key reason for what is a spectacular increase in a traditional staid segment is Ford’s decision to go with several alternative powertrain packages.

The European-designed Transit van will be offered with both a turbocharged EcoBoost powertrain, Ford officials say, but will also be available with a new high-mileage diesel option. That, plus other efficiencies designed into the all-new Ford Transit should yield an average mpg number about a quarter higher than the old Econoline model, also known as the E-Series.

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The Transit is the latest step in the maker’s migration to its so-called One Ford strategy.  The goal is to hold down costs – and deliver more content to consumers – by sharing product designs on a global basis.  In the past, the E-Series was offered in North America and a few other select markets, while Europe and most of the rest of the world shared the previous version of the Transit.

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GM Takes 7% Stake in Peugeot.

Peugeot already looking to expand GM alliance.

by on Mar.28, 2012

GM CEO Dan Akerson and PSA Peugeot Citroen CEO Phillippe Varin.

General Motors now holds a 7% stake of French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen, the first critical step in an alliance announced a month ago – and one that the French automaker is already signaling it would like to expand.

GM’s acquisition was linked to a new Peugeot stock offering that the Paris-based maker intended to raise 1 billion Euros ($1.32 billion) in much-needed capital.  In fact, demand for the share issue by Europe’s second-largest automaker ran about 78% above the original target, at 1.78 billion Euros.

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GM now becomes the second-largest shareholder in PSA Peugeot Citroen after the founding Peugeot family.  Represented by several key executives, including chairman Phillippe Varin, the family itself holds a 25% stake – but has 38% of the corporate voting rights.

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“Stunning” New Toyota Concept May Be Next-Generation Avalon

Sneak peek signals NY Auto Show preview.

by on Mar.28, 2012

Will this be the next-gen Toyota Avalon?

“Passion” is a word that Toyota CEO – and founding family heir – Akio Toyoda talks a lot about.  It’s something he readily admits Toyota products don’t have enough of it, and that in today’s competitive market it’s something the brand desperately needs.

Clearly, the oft-maligned styling of the latest Toyota Camry didn’t deliver, despite a last-minute styling tweak intended to satisfy near-mutinous dealers.  Last year’s launch of the new Lexus GS and the recent unveiling of the LF-LC concept hint that Toyota product developers are taking the mandate seriously.  Or so we may see with the planned NY Auto Show preview of what the Japanese maker is calling a “stunning U.S.-designed sedan.”

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The maker clearly considers the launch significant, providing this teaser shot a week ahead of the big event at New York’s Jacob Javits Center.  Meanwhile, spy shots are popping up and from the industry scuttlebutt it appears that what we see here is going to soon reappear as the next-generation Toyota Avalon.

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Deja Vu: Chevy Gets a New Global Ad Agency…Sorta

Herding cats?

by on Mar.28, 2012

The Commonwealth Global Board includes four automotive advertising veterans (left to right): Washington Olivetto, Jeff Goodby, Prasoon Joshi and Linus Karlsson.

After a six-month review Chevrolet has finally selected a new agency for its global creative work – called Commonwealth — from a new company formed of formerly very competitive ad agency holding companies – Omnicon Group and Interpublic Group – and that’s a first.

Hmm.

The new creative company will be led by executives from San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, an Omnicom Group company which handled Chevy in the U.S. and New York-based McCann Erickson Worldwide, an Interpublic Group company which was the agency of record for Chevy elsewhere in the world. The new company will be located in Detroit replacing the 70, yes 70, agencies currently working on the brand globally.

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This may be a new creative group for the storied brand but it wasn’t the creative product that caused the switch-merger-consolidation, it was the cost savings. Joel Ewanick, GM Vice President and Global CMO noted, “The consolidation is expected to create about $2 billion in savings over the next five years, with a portion used to take advantage of key global marketing opportunities and strengthen the focus on our global Chevrolet brand, and a portion hitting the bottom line.”

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Caddy XTS Lets You Drive by the Seat of Your Pants

Safety Alert Seat warns of pending problems.

by on Mar.28, 2012

Cadillac's latest safety technologies include graphics on the gauge cluster that indicate when an object has been detected in the path of the vehicle.

It’s something a good race car driver is expected to do, using the subtle cues a car gives while racing around the track to push to the limits.  But now, even an average driver will be able to drive by the seat of their pants in Cadillac’s new flagship luxury sedan.

The General Motors luxury division is introducing a suite of new safety features for the new 2013 Cadillac XTS luxury sedan, which is slated to go into production this spring, including an industry first using the driver’s seat to alert a motorist to threats while driving or parking.

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The patented Cadillac Safety Alert Seat generates vibrating pulse patterns in the lower bolster to alert the driver to potential dangers, such as drifting from a traffic lane or toward nearby objects while parking.  Threats from the front and rear trigger pulses on both sides of the seat, while the seat, while the seat can vibrate on the left or right to signal the direction of a problem, GM engineers said as they demonstrated the new equipment at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan.

“It’s akin to someone tapping on your shoulder in a crowd to get your attention,” said GM Active Safety Technical Fellow Raymond Kiefer. “Using the tactile sense to communicate crash threat direction provides an effective and intuitive way to cut through the clutter of visual and auditory sensory information that drivers routinely experience.”

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Shelby American Rolls Out 950-hp Mustang

A real prancing pony.

by on Mar.27, 2012

The Shelby 1000 makes 950 hp on the street, 1,100 on the track.

When Carroll Shelby says he’s got a new muscle car on tap, take him seriously.  The legendary automotive raconteur’s latest take on the Mustang will deliver enough tire-squealing torque and horsepower to make gold-chained Ferraristas duck for cover.

That’s 950 hp, to be precise, only slightly less than the $1.4 million Bugatti Veyron ultracar makes.  And that’s for the street legal version of the Shelby 1000 that will take its bow at the New York Auto Show next week.  The track-ready pony car bumps the number all the way up to 1,100 horsepower.

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Since the former race car driver-cum-automotive entrepreneur first teamed up with Lee Iacocca, back in the mid-‘60s, Shelby has never shied away from the challenge of pumping a little more power out of a Mustang.  The latest offering takes things one very large step beyond the last Mustang upgrade from Shelby American, the GT500 Super Snake “only” able to make a measly 800 hp.

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Jeep Readies Concepts for Moab Trek

Sales rebound straining SUV brand’s production capacity.

by on Mar.27, 2012

picture credit: Jim McCraw

The Jeep Wrangler Apache, with its 6.2-liter Hemi, can power over almost any obstacle. All photos: Credit Jim McCraw.

Update: photo credits were inadvertently omitted; all photos: Jim McCraw.

The folks at Jeep are used to overcoming some tough obstacles – like the ones on Utah’s grueling Moab Trail, which serves as the site of the maker’s annual Easter Safari.

But even as Jeep officials rolled out an assortment of SUV concepts specifically designed for the Moab run, they acknowledged they’re facing some even tougher challenges in the months ahead.  But it’s not all bad news.

“We’re selling out of every model, every month,” said Jim Morrison, director of Jeep Brand marketing, during a Tuesday new conference.

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In fact, it’s a problem compounded by Jeep’s increasing popularity outside the U.S., Mike Manley, president of the Jeep brand, told reporters at corporate headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  Jeep is not only short of vehicles in the US but also in Australia, China and Europe where demand for its vehicles has been very strong.

“We’re still running ahead of the industry,” said Manley, who noted Jeep sales are up 37% worldwide this year.

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