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Ford Offers Up More – But Not Everything – On New Focus RS and GT Supercar

Breaking Update: Ford confirms GT production will be limited to 250 annually for "several years."

by on Mar.03, 2015

The new Ford Focus RS will put out at least 320 horsepower and be built at one plant in France.

This story has been revised with updated GT production information, Ford confirming it will build just 250 of the new GT ultracars annually for a limited run.

Ford intends to take on some of the toughest competitors in the hot-hatch market when it launches an all-new version of the Focus RS for 2016. And after giving a select group of media a preview last month, the Detroit maker will be rolling out the five-door pocket rocket for public viewing this week at the Geneva Motor Show.

In a limited-access background session, senior members of the Ford performance and product development team offered some more background on the Focus RS – as well as the upcoming Ford ultracar, the reborn GT. But they continued to hold back some key details, apparently not wanting to give key competitors like Volkswagen, Honda and Subaru, a chance to prepare for what’s coming.

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“There’s quite a bit of fine-tuning that goes in right until the final hour,” stressed Jamal Hameedi, the chief engineer for Ford’s new Global Performance Vehicle unit. (more…)

Truck Sales Lead to Strong February Results

Cars less than half of new vehicle’s sold last month.

by on Mar.03, 2015

The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado is selling like gangbusters for GM. The maker's truck sales were up 36% in February.

Sales of truck and crossover vehicles accounted for well over half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. during February as sales of passenger cars continued to slide.

Trucks and crossovers accounted for 54% of all vehicles sold in the United States during February, according to AutoData, and the trend was underscored by the sales number posted by various automakers.

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General Motors, for example, saw its sale of trucks and utility vehicles increase by 36% but its passenger car sales dropped by 21% and the Cadillac division sales dropped by 12%. The same pattern prevailed at Ford, Honda and Nissan, all of which reported that sales of passenger cars dipped during February but were offset by increases in truck sales. (more…)

Aston Martin Drops Geneva Surprise with Debut of DBX Crossover

Concept CUV likely to lead to production model “by end of decade.”

by on Mar.03, 2015

Aston Martin surprised the media in Geneva with the introduction of its DBX crossover.

Normally low-key Aston Martin generated some buzz going into this year’s Geneva Motor Show with the planned introduction of its new Vulcan race car. But as hordes of media descended on the British maker’s small stand it delivered a much bigger surprise. The DBX is not just the first crossover-utility vehicle Aston has ever come up with, but also the marque’s first all-electric vehicle.

Though the top secret project is, for the moment, officially being described as just a “concept,” a senior Aston executive made it clear to TheDetroitBureau.com that a production version is all but certain to follow. And it will be part of a grand remake of the company that will see a significant expansion of its current product portfolio in the coming years.

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“We want to build it,” stressed Aston Martin marketing chief Simon Sproule,” though he cautioned that the DBX that would not reach showrooms until “the end of the decade.” And when it does, it likely will abandon the three-door coupe body style in favor of a slightly more utilitarian five-door design featuring two rows and five seats. (more…)

Automakers Enjoy Strong February Sales Despite Cold Weather

Truck, SUVs continue to report strong results.

by on Mar.03, 2015

Nissan's Sentra saw sales increase 24% in February. Most early reporting automakers saw sales increases in last month.

Good news for automakers in February: U.S. consumers still wanted to buy new cars, trucks and sport-utility vehicles despite the frigid weather conditions that prevailed across much of the country. Most automakers reporting sales early today managed to post modest sales increases for the month of February.

General Motors, FCA US, Toyota, Nissan and Infiniti all reported sales increases while Ford announced modest 2% drop in sales and the Volkswagen brand saw its sales drop by 5%

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Reid Bigland, head of U.S. Sales for FCA, said Chrysler, Jeep, and Ram Truck brands each posted year-over-year sales gains in February as FCA sales increased 6% compared with the same month a year ago. The Jeep brand’s 21% increase was the largest sales gain of any FCA US brand during the month and its best February sales ever. The group extended its streak of year-over-year sales gains to 59 consecutive months. (more…)

Live from the Geneva Motor Show!

Sports cars revving up the event’s appeal.

by on Mar.03, 2015

The 85th Geneva Motor Show is in full swing and features more than 130 worldwide or European debuts with luxury and exotic sports cars leading the charge. But the Swiss show also plugs into the alternative fuel market with battery-cars, diesels and even hydrogen vehicles.

And with Europe’s crowded streets and costly fuel, there are plenty of compact crossovers as well as sporty small cars — many of which eventually will make it to U.S. showrooms.

Don’t miss out on TheDetroitBureau.com’s extensive and ongoing coverage. So, check in often for more from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

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VW Aims to Take Lead in Automotive Technology

Maker bills itself an “innovation think tank,” says R&D budget hit €11.5 billion in 2014.

by on Mar.03, 2015

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn wants the maker to be more than the sales leader worldwide. He wants it to the technological leader too.

Already aiming to take the lead in global sales, Volkswagen AG also wants to be the industry’s technology leader, CEO Martin Winterkorn declared during a Geneva Motor Show news conference, and he says the company is ready to back that up with hard cash.

VW invested €11.5 billion, or nearly $13 billion in its “Future Tracks” program last year, a pace of research and development that it apparently has no plans to slow down. The maker is offering up a number of examples of where that money went this week during a series of product debuts at the annual Geneva show from each of its more than a dozen different brands.

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“Volkswagen is an innovation think tank,” proclaimed Winterkorn during a Monday night news conference ahead of the opening of the Geneva show. “We develop technologies that point the way well into the future.” (more…)

Infiniti QX30 Concept Makes its Geneva Debut

Production version set to roll out by year-end.

by on Mar.03, 2015

The QX30 Concept foreshadows an entry in the premium compact segment that provides a stylish alternative to the existing offer in this segment.

Infiniti has been doing the fan dance in recent weeks, dropping one tantalizing tidbit about the new QX30 after another. Finally, at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, it has gone the full monty.

Officially, what the maker unveiled is being dubbed a “concept vehicle.” No surprise, that’s part of the process for Infiniti. But what we see is darn close to what you’ll get when the new compact crossover hits showrooms later this year.

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“QX30 Concept foreshadows an entry in the premium compact segment that provides a stylish alternative to the existing offer in this segment,” said Roland Krueger, Infiniti president and CEO. “The vehicle embodies our conviction to give customers the freedom to go wherever they want, whenever they want – in a style that turns heads and makes a statement, in a way that expresses their individualized character.” (more…)

Bentley Explores its Future with EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept

New 2-seater could retune British maker’s approach to performance and design.

by on Mar.03, 2015

Bentley is reshaping its image a bit with the introduction of the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept at the Geneva Motor Show.

There’s no doubt that Bentley can build beautiful, fast, powerful and extremely expensive automobiles. But they’re also heavy and not necessarily state-of-the-art technology. Which is why the new EXP 10 Speed 6 concept the British marque has unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show is likely to garner a lot of attention in the months ahead.

Unlike the current Speed model, the EXP 10 is a true two-seater, and it appears aimed at some of the high-line brands more traditionally associated with extreme performance, like Aston Martin, McLaren and Ferrari.

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Think of the EXP 10 Speed 6 as “one vision for Bentley’s future,” suggested Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, during a Geneva preview. But there he left things dangling, adding that, “It could be a future model line, alongside the Continental GT and redefining the pinnacle of another market sector, and the styling of the EXP 10 Speed 6 could influence the expansion of the Bentley family.” (more…)

GMC Readying New Advertising Campaign

Brand moves away from commercial bent in ads.

by on Mar.02, 2015

GMC unveiled a series of three new commercials featuring a new focus for the brand.

For the first time in 15 years, GMC will no longer just be “professional grade” as the brand begins fleshing its long-standing advertising pitch. The new campaign, which features three new ads, moves to elevate the visibility of the brand while helping to better define it.

Duncan Aldred, GMC vice president of sales and marketing, said the new campaign is part of a coordinated product and communication effort that will double GM’s investment in the GMC brand over the next decade and, hopefully, grow sales.

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The product initiative will focus on the consumer side of the brand – including the luxury Denali sub-brand – rather than on the commercial side of the business, which had been GMC’s bailiwick prior to the truck and sport utility vehicle boom of the 1990s. (more…)

VW Passat Captures Euro Car of the Year

German automaker continues reeling in the honors.

by on Mar.02, 2015

The Volkswagen Passat captured the 2015 European Car of the Year award at the Geneva Motor Show.

If Volkswagen can rack up sales this year like it’s racking up awards, they could set records. The German maker nabbed another honor when European auto editors named the Passat was named 2015 European Car of the Year at the Geneva Motor Show.

The large sedan beat out six other finalists including the Citroen C4 Cactus, Renault Twingo, Mercedes C-Class, Ford Mondeo, Nissan Qashqai and BMW 2-Series Active Tourer. The Passat succeeds the Peugeot 308 compact, which took the crown from Volkswagen’s Golf in 2013.

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The Passat is the largest sedan in the company’s line-up. In a bit of irony, the European press honored the company’s largest sedan while the North American motoring scribes named the considerably smaller Golf this year’s Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. (more…)