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Archive for December, 2012

Leaked C7 Corvette Renderings Reach Web

Images reveal interior and exterior.

by on Dec.26, 2012

Renderings of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette - likely from an owner's manual - have leaked onto the Web.

There are few secrets in the auto industry but General Motors has gone to great pains to keep the lid on images and details concerning the next-generation Chevrolet Corvette. Only a handful of journalists have had a chance to see or hear about the new C7 ‘Vette in advance of its debut at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.

But now, it appears, a number of details, as well as some detailed renderings, have leaked out anyway. But we’re betting that it will only enhance interest when the Corvette reveal takes place in little more than two weeks.

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We owe a tip of the hat to Autoblog for nabbing these images which first appeared on the Corvette Forum but which were then quickly pulled back down.

The renderings, which appear to come from an owner’s manual or service guide, reveal a more European design that would seem to be in line, dimensionally, with the likes of a Porsche 911.  A large grille is located directly below the steeply raked headlamps. There are large air exhausts behind the front wheels which could be used for brake cooling as well as to exhaust air from the engine compartment.


GM Consolidating Rear-Drive Vehicle Production

Camaro coming home.

by on Dec.26, 2012

The next Chevy Camaro will be produced in the U.S.

General Motors has confirmed the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro will be assembled at the Lansing Grand River (LGR) Assembly Plant in Lansing, Michigan. The decision marks the first time in years the pony car has been assembled in the U.S.

Production of the Camaro has been handled at a plant in Oshawa, Ontario. But GM has decided to consolidate its rear-wheel-drive products in order to maximize production efficiencies.

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Lower capital investment and improved production costs were key factors in the business case. The Camaro is the only rear-wheel drive vehicle built at Oshawa, a sprawling facility located just outside Toronto.


Stylish yes, But is 2013 Ford Escape as Useful as Old One?

Sleek new cute ute is a major departure from the old box.

by on Dec.26, 2012

Ford says the 2013 Ford Escape is as useful as the original, but now in a sleek and stylish package.

For me, a new Ford Escape is personal. Our 2002 model was simply the best car we’ve ever owned.

With its optional V-6, it was powerful, it was as maneuverable as a go-kart and it had an interior that simply could not possibly have fit inside what looked like a smallish sport utility on the outside. Tough grey plastic cladding on the bottom gave that original Escape a rough and read, youthful look and it brushed off road debris without trouble.

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There’s a good reason buyers have made it the best-selling small SUV on the market. It may have been a box, but it just worked.

But now Ford has built a new Escape, with swoopier styling, new powertrain options and a modern interior. The question is whether this new Escape can live up to or improve on one of the most useful vehicles of its size ever made.

Let’s take a look.

Mazda’s Jay Amestoy Set to Retire – More or Less

Longest-serving executive at company.

by on Dec.24, 2012

Retiring, more or less...Mazda PR and motorsports chief Jay Amestoy with CEO Jim O'Sullivan.

In an industry where change often occurs overnight, Jay Amestoy has been a rock of stability for Mazda North America.  But after 22 years – making him not only the Japanese maker’s longest-serving executive but also the longest-serving public relations chief in the industry – Amestoy is stepping down.

The California native will formally retire on January 1 – though he won’t entirely abandon his ties to Mazda and will continue to work as a consultant to the maker’s president and CEO Jim O’Sullivan, with an ongoing role in Mazda’s ambitious motorsports program.

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“Mazda has been honored to have Jay Amestoy at the helm of our public relations and motorsports efforts for more than two decades,” said Jim O’Sullivan, president & CEO, MNAO. “Jay has not only been an advocate for the Mazda brand, but has been instrumental in building it up to what it stands for today. We congratulate him on what has been, and will continue to be, a wonderful career.”


Delphi Back on the S&P List

Back in good graces after decade of turmoil.

by on Dec.24, 2012

Seven years after a bankruptcy filing launched what became a sweeping reorganization – and the longest corporate run through the Chapter 11 process in American business history — Delphi Automotive is final returning to the good graces of Wall Street.

The auto parts manufacturer Delphi Automotive (US:dlph) will replace Titanium Metals Corp. in the S&P 500 index, S&P Dow Jones Indices said in a statement Tuesday evening.

The change will take place after the close of trading on Dec. 21, when Precision Castparts Corp. is expected to complete its acquisition of Titanium Metals.

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Delphi, which assumed control of a substantial portion of General Motors’ in-house parts empire in 1999, filed for bankruptcy in 2008 as its struggled with an unwieldy cost structure built around traditional union contracts that had been undercut and rendered unsustainable by the rapid globalization of the auto industry.


Suzuki Sales Surge as Maker Prepares to Leave US

But no reprieve planned.

by on Dec.24, 2012

Suddenly, buyers galore for the Suzuki Kizashi.

As folk singer Joni Mitchell might have put it: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?”

With American Suzuki Motor Corp. preparing to close its automotive operations in the coming year sales have suddenly surged in ways that the Japanese company could have only dreamed of in recent years.  In fact, the maker has had to increase imports from Japan to meet surging demand – a move that required approval from a U.S. bankruptcy judge.

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Sales in November surged 22%, to 2,224 vehicles and, according to the maker, demand is strong this month, as well.  Of course, an expanded, 7-year warranty and a big increase in incentives meant to clear out dealer lots has certainly helped.


After Decade-Long Decline, Highway Deaths Suddenly Surge

Motorists take to the road again after long recession.

by on Dec.21, 2012

Highway fatalities have suddenly reversed a near decade-long decline. The question is why?

After a decade of decline, U.S. highway fatalities appear to be on the upswing again, according to new government data, with the death total climbing faster than at any time since 1975.

The 7.1% jump during the first nine months of the year has safety experts scrambling for an explanation, though at least some of the blame may go to the economy, more Americans driving longer distances as their personal financial situation has improved, post-recession.

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“There is a relationship between the economy, gas prices, driving and fatalities,” noted Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “However, the increase can’t be explained solely because of an improving economy and more discretionary driving.”


Jeep – Imported From Italy

Next-gen “small Jeep” to be Produced Overseas.

by on Dec.21, 2012

The replacement for the Jeep Patriot and Compass will be produced in Melfi, Italy and share underpinnings with the new Fiat 500X.

This story has been updated following clarification from Chrysler about plans for Jeep.

A new small Jeep will be produced in Italy and then exported to the U.S. and other markets, according to Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, a move the maker hopes will help improve capacity utilization as European car sales collapse.

While Marchionne did not specifically identify the Jeep product, company officials have since advised that the new product would be an “additional model to the (brand) and not (a) replacement for the current Jeep Compass or Patriot models, as had been earlier reported.

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The new products will be based upon a crossover chassis developed by Fiat and Chrysler using their new Small-Wide “architecture.”  That platform will be shared with several Fiat additions, the recently-introduced 500L and the new 500X.


Toyota Furia Concept Could be New Corolla

“Exciting new sedan” making Detroit Auto Show debut.

by on Dec.21, 2012

The honeycomb grille and lamp assembly is one of the more distinctive details Toyota is revealing about the Furia Concept.

To answer the most obvious question, it’s not furry.  It’s the Spanish word for “fury,” but interpreted by the Japanese this new concept car could just be the upcoming replacement for the long-in-the-tooth Toyota Corolla.

The industry giant plans to unveil the Furia Concept at the Detroit Auto Show, a few weeks from now and from the teaser Toyota has released it appears to be a midsized sports sedan.

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These stills and a separate video provide a hint of some intriguing details, such as the distinctive honeycomb headlight assembly carbon fiber trunk lip spoiler, ultra-bright LED taillamps and more.

Foreign sources suggest the Toyota Furia also brings to mind the cultish Chaser model that was marketed in many parts of the world between 1977 and 2000 – but which never made it to the States.


Car Sales Holding Strong in December

Could set torrid pace going into 2013.

by on Dec.21, 2012

Analysts say strong demand for luxury cars is driving December sales.

December has become a pivotal month for car sales and this December is looking particularly strong with sales up an estimated 15% thanks to a year-end push by luxury carmakers.

In fact, some analysts are predicting that 2012 could end with one of the strongest bursts of buying seen all year, setting a torrid pace going into 2013.

The J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network and LMC Automotive new-vehicle retail selling rate remains robust near the close of 2012, with potential buyers unfazed by the current level of economic uncertainty generated by the fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington D.C.

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December new-vehicle retail sales are expected to come in at 1,152,500 units, which represent a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, or SAAR, of 12.2 million units. December’s selling rate remains strong and is 500,000 units higher than the expected 2012 full-year rate. Retail transactions are the most accurate measurement of true underlying consumer demand for new vehicles. When fleet sales are added in, that could push the SAAR past the 15 million units, the report estimated.