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California Dreaming: Big 3 Struggle to Win Back West Coast Buyers

To succeed, domestics must win back jaded import owners.

by on Jul.21, 2009

California Dreamin'? Potential buyers check out the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, parked here by a San Diego beach.

California Dreamin'? Passersby check out a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, parked by a San Diego beach.

“Why would I even consider buying a car from Detroit,” says Leslie Hamilton, a successful author living in Seattle, “when I’ve been completely happy with my Toyota – and the one I had before and the one before that?”

It’s the same sort of question millions of other motorists keep asking themselves, nowhere more frequently than along the import-friendly East and West Coasts.  Unless and until Detroit’s Big Three automakers can come up with the right answer, their ability to stage a significant comeback will be limited, industry analysts warn.

Coast-to-Coast...and Free!

Coast-to-Coast...and Free!

“How to get through to people in those markets is our number one challenge,” says Bob Lutz, the 77-year-old General Motors vice chairman who recently decided to postpone retirement but shift his duties from product development to marketing.  “If I had the answer, I’d probably have done it yesterday.


Spy Shots: GM’s LML Duramax 2011 Silverado / Sierra Trucks

First look at the stump-puller of an engine hiding under the hood of "test mule."

by on Jun.22, 2009

GM 6.6-liter Duramax Diesel

GM 6.6-liter Duramax Diesel

Diesels may be in the dumps when it comes to light-duty pickup trucks but things are starting to get hot in the heavy-duty segment.  New federal emissions rules set to take effect in 2010 have sent Ford and General Motors back to the drawing boards (the current Dodge Ram HD and its 6.7-liter Cummins I6 already meets 2010 emissions).

We’ve previously reported about Ford’s upcoming 6.7-liter eight-cylinder in-house replacement for the current 6.4-liter V-8 Power Stroke, code-named “Scorpion.” Now, we’ve received new information from sources about GM’s updated 6.6-liter Duramax V-8, plus this close-up spy photo.

General Motors uses three letter identifiers to designate each new iteration of Duramax. The current 2007-10 ‘LMM’ Duramax is designed to run on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and work with a diesel particulate filter to cut soot emissions by 90 percent from 2006 levels. The LMM replacement is said to be called the ‘LML’ Duramax.

Subscribe to TheDetroitBureau.comThe LML Duramax is expected to be GM’s cleanest diesel engine yet. Some have speculated that its displacement would grow to 6.9-liters for emissions reasons but our sources say it will continue to be a 6.6-liter V-8.


Spy Shots: Maserati Hardtop Convertible

by on May.12, 2009

Lift the camouflage and you'd see the bones of Maserati's newest coupe and convertible.

Lift the camouflage and you'd see the bones of Maserati's first-ever hardtop convertible.

In the words of our photographer:

Maserati’s most exciting car at present – the GT – will soon be given a beautiful sister, and she’ll be walking around topless at times: Spotted at the German Nürburgring earlier today was this prototype of a Maserati Spider.

Judging from the heavy camouflaged packed onto the car and in par with the brand-new Ferrari California, we reckon the Spider will be given a retractable metal roof rather than a conventional canvas top. Competitors like the Aston Martin DBS, on the other hand, will not follow this trend and will soon come with a traditional soft top. A Porsche 911 Cabrio, too, will never be built with anything but a canvas roof.

Different from the new GT Spider’s predecessor, the new model will apparently come as a 2+2- rather than a pure 2-seater. Engine and mechanics of the Maserati Spider won’t change compared to the coupe. We expect the cabriolet to debut at the 2009 Geneva Show.

More pictures available at    Brenda Priddy & Company

First Drive: 2010 Nissan 370Z

More muscle, less fat.

by on Apr.22, 2009

Great scenery, but not the best place to test the 2010 Nissan 370Z.

Great scenery, but not the best place to test the 2010 Nissan 370Z.

It was great to see the new Nissan 370Z unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show, last November, but I was left with one nagging question: would it live up to its predecessor, a truly exciting and affordable sports car?

To be honest, I was not instantly enchanted by the looks of the new 370Z, with the frivolous boomerang head lights and similar taillight design — and a side profile that unabashedly borrows from the 800-pound gorilla of the Nissan line-up, the GT-R.  But as an owner of a 2008 Nissan 350Z, I was still quite eager to experience the new Z’s performance and handling.

If the press kit is to be believed, it should be better than ever. The 2010 model has all the right specs: it’s lighter, shorter, wider and lower, the right ingredients for improved handling. Then there’s the new 3.7 V-6 petrol engine (borrowed from Nissan’s luxury market sibling, Infiniti).  Add more horsepower and torque and, well, you can understand that I had some high expectations.