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Bentley Goes Electric at Beijing Show with Plug-In Mulsanne Concept

Luxury makers face pressure to go greener.

by on Apr.21, 2014

Bentley shows off its plug-in hybrid system.

China’s long economic expansion has made it one of the most promising markets for luxury carmakers, with demand for high-line vehicles soon expected to exceed that in U.S. Even the most expensive brands have been growing at a blinding rate, right along with the rest of the Chinese market.

But China’s central government is putting pressure on carmakers – particularly those producing the most powerful and fuel-inefficient products — to develop more electric and hybrid vehicles because of growing concerns about the country’s endemic air pollution problems.

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That’s encouraged Bentley to introduce its first-ever plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle, or PHEV, at this year’s Beijing Motor Show. The good news for potential buyers, stressed according to Wolfgang Schreilber, chairman and chief executive officer of Bentley Motors, is that the plug-in version of the flagship Mulsanne is both more powerful and even more efficient than the conventional, gas-powered model.

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Japanese Automakers Go All Out in Beijing

by on Apr.21, 2014

Lexus brings the production version of its NX crossover to the Beijing Auto Show.

Japanese carmakers came to the big auto show in Beijing this year determined to show they are prepared to fight for the hearts and minds of Chinese customers.

Struggling to regain momentum lost due to an ongoing debate between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited, but strategically located, islands, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and other Japanese makers rolled out an assortment of new models they hope will help them close the gap with more established players in the huge Chinese car market, notably including Volkswagen AG and General Motors.

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One of the most significant introductions came from Lexus, which unveiled the new Lexus NX utility vehicle, the long-anticipated production version of a controversial concept vehicle, then called the LF-NX first unveiled during the Frankfurt Auto Show last autumn.

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Jeep Shows Off Four Beijing Concepts, Plans to Launch China Production

Fiat Chrysler aims to gain momentum in world’s largest car market.

by on Apr.20, 2014

The Jeep Cherokee Urbane, one of four concept vehicles the maker is showing in Beijing.

Beijing Auto Show-goers will get a look at four new Jeep concept vehicles this week, vehicles the maker said are “uniquely designed for China,” the world’s largest automotive market.

But perhaps more significant is the news that parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has finally locked down a long-sought joint venture that will allow it to begin producing Jeeps in China for the first time in nearly a decade. The SUV brand was the first foreign maker into China but lost that Beijing production base after the break-up of DaimlerChrysler AG.

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The tie-up with China’s Guangzhou Automobile Group is a critical step for Jeep which has been pushing to expand its presence abroad in recent years. The maker sold 731,000 vehicles worldwide in 2013 and brand CEO Michael Manley recently announced a target of 1 million for 2014, well ahead of earlier plans.

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BMW Concept Could Become New Super-Lux 8- or 9-Series

German maker turns to Beijing for unveiling.

by on Apr.20, 2014

BMW is showing off the new Vision Future Luxury Concept in Beijing this week.

BMW is pulling the wraps off a sleek new coupe-like sedan that could fill one of the few apparent gaps in its rapidly expanding line-up. The prototype on display at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show is considered quite likely to become the maker’s new 8- or 9-Series flagship.

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Precisely how close a production model might come to the show car remains to be seen, however. The concept, dubbed the BMW Vision Future Luxury, features some details that are often used to enhance the sex appeal of show cars – such as the rear-hinged, “suicide doors” – that are seldom actually carried over into production models.

Nonetheless, BMW has long been hinting at its desire to fill a niche left open when it dropped the older 8-Series line a few years back.

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VW Plugging Into Chinese EV Market

Maker promises to invest $27 bil over 5 years.

by on Apr.20, 2014

VW will launch the e-Golf and an assortment of other battery-based vehicles in China.

With Beijing’s traffic choked roads as a backdrop, Volkswagen announced a major initiative to put tens, perhaps 100s of thousands of electric vehicles on the road in China before the end of the current decade.

VW chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn said VW and its key Chinese partners were prepared to spend as much as $27 billion in the next five years on electric vehicles in China.

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“The Volkswagen Group is once again assuming a pioneering role in China and launching the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history”, s said. Martin Winterkorn,

The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s electric Up! and e-Golf models in China.

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Chevrolet Makes Trax as it Cruzes into Beijing

Maker has twin intros for China's big auto show.

by on Apr.20, 2014

GM global design chief Ed Welburn helps reveal the new Chevrolet Cruze.

General Motors stages a Broadway Style extravaganza at one of Beijing’s newest landmarks – the Water Cube from the 2008 Olympics – for the debut of the new Chevrolet Cruze.

The new model, which will eventually make its journey to the U.S., as well, shared the spotlight with the new Chevrolet Trax introduced earlier in the week at the New York Auto Show.

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“China is a very important opportunity for the Chevrolet brand,” said Alan Batey, the head of the Chevrolet brand worldwide, as the Cruze rolled out.

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Lincoln Reveals New MKX Concept in Beijing

Part of major rollout plan for Chinese market.

by on Apr.20, 2014

The new Lincoln MKX Concept.

While still struggling to turn things around in the home U.S. market, Lincoln is looking to China to help revive its sagging fortunes. And this week’s Beijing Auto Show will be a critical step in the hoped-for turnaround process.

To support its formal launch in China, Ford Motor Co.’s luxury division is unveiling a new show car in Beijing, the Lincoln MKX Concept. And the prototype is but certain to reappear in production form in the near future.

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“It’s a strong indication of the next-generation MKX,” David Woodhouse, the new Lincoln Design Director, said during a background briefing prior to the show car’s unveiling. He described the show car as, “a much more emotional design” than the fairly boxy and conventional midsize crossover it will ultimately replace.

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GM Recall Victims Move ‘Park It Now’ Fight to Feds

Groups planning to petition NHTSA to force issue.

by on Apr.18, 2014

Sen. Richard Blumenthal called for GM to not hide behind liability protection afforded it from its bankruptcy filing in 2009.

After a federal judge declined to issue a “park it now” order to General Motors, lawyers representing the families of GM recall victims are now attempting to convince the federal government to do so.

The lawyers, victims and their families are preparing to submit a petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asking the agency to order GM to park all 2.6 million vehicles that are part of the faulty ignition switch recall.

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“We were disappointed with the court’s decision in this matter,” said Thomas Henry, a Texas-based attorney involved in the case, in a release. “We have hundreds of clients who experienced this fatal defect firsthand, some who were injured in accidents after the recall notice was issued. We have also been hired by numerous families who lost loved ones and individuals who were seriously injured since the ‘Park It’ litigation began.” (more…)

Volvo Bringing Innovative S60L PPHEV to Beijing

Swedish hybrid uses three driving modes for performance.

by on Apr.18, 2014

Volvo's S60L PPHEV concept will be unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show.

Volvo plans to unveil its latest green car at the Beijing Auto Show next week: the S60L PPHEV. The plug-in hybrid not only gets up and goes, but it gives drivers the option of how they want to drive.

The PPHEV, which is short for petrol plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, provides motorists with three driving modes: pure, hybrid or power.

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In Pure mode, the S60L will travel in pure electric mode for more than 30 miles. In the default hybrid mode, the carbon dioxide emissions are about 50 g/km. This corresponds to fuel consumption of just two liters per 100 km. It will travel approximately 600 miles in hybrid mode. (more…)

Honda Reveals Plans for New HR-V Compact SUV

Will share platform with 2015 Honda Fit subcompact.

by on Apr.18, 2014

Honda confirmed today that it will build its new HR-V crossover alongside the 2015 Honda Fit at its plant in Celaya, Mexico.

Honda is about to become the newest entrant into the rapidly growing compact crossover segment.

The maker confirmed the new model will be called the Honda HR-V during a news conference at the 2014 NY Auto Show. The crossover will share the same platform as the all-new 2015 Honda Fit and will be assembled at the company’s new assembly plant in Celaya, Mexico, alongside the small car.

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“Both Fit and HR-V demonstrate how great things can come in small packages, and no one does this better than Honda,” said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of the Honda automobile division for American Honda. “Together these models also represent Honda’s step-by-step expansion of our production in the region, which has been key to our success in America for more than 30 years.” (more…)