Monday, November 30, 2009

2011 Audi A8

Audi had a webcast reveal of the 2011 A8, but here are some press photos with more to follow later. It will be powered by a 372 horsepower 4.2 FSI V8, a 3.0 V6 TDI and 4.2 V8 TDI are available with 250 and 350 horsepower. More impressive are the torque and fuel economy numbers for the diesels, 406 lb-ft and 36 mpg average for the V6 and 590 lb-ft and 31 mpg average for the V8.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Toyota Urban Cruiser Fails Euro NCAP Test, Toyota PR Responds

The Toyota Urban Cruiser, the European version of the Scion xD, received a poor overall rating of 3 stars from the European New Car Assessment Programme. The reason for the three star rating was the poor score of 58% for adult occupant protection. Of the dozen cars tested in the last release, the Chevrolet Cruze had the highest adult protection score of 96%, the second lowest score was 81% for the Chevrolet Spark. The Spark was the only other car not to get a perfect five star overall rating, it got four stars.

Full details of the dozen cars tested.
In response to this poor showing, Toyota PR replied saying that they are surprised that the Urban Cruiser got a three star rating and thought that it's side air bag system should be good enough to get a five star rating. Instead, the Urban Cruiser received zero points in the Euro NCAP pole test, "In the side pole test, the head curtain airbag failed to prevent a hard contact of the head." Toyota spokesman concluded by saying, "Once again, we remain fully convinced that Urban Cruiser is a safe car."

While that is probably true, the fact is that other cars are safer and consumers are free to pick a Toyota competitor that did better in the Euro NCAP test.

The full PR response in an Autocar article is here. Of note is this Autocar blog arguing that the ubiquity of five star ratings (aside from Urban Cruiser) creates the need for a sixth star to distinguish cars with excellent safety from those with very good safety.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chrysler Has A 5 Year Plan, But Will It Work?

Based on yesterday's sales figures the Chrysler group is doing the worst among major manufacturers. To fix the current situation Chrysler has devised a five year plan that will put them on the right track. Chrysler presented the plan to the media during a seven hour press conference, here is a summary of the new products coming from Chrysler.

Dodge Brand
  • The Caliber will get a slight restyle with a better interior in 2010. It will be replaced with a Fiat based compact sedan in 2013.
  • The Avenger mid size sedan will get a more significant refresh in 2010 including a new interior, engines, restyling, and improvements in ride, fuel economy and performance. It will then be replaced by a Fiat based car in 2013.
  • Journey and Caravan will receive same updates as the Avenger.
  • New Charger arrives in 2010.
  • A Fiat based small car will come in 2013.
  • A new Viper will come in 2012.
Ram Brand
  • Dakota pickup will be replaced by a unit-body pickup in 2011
  • Ram trucks will be upgraded in 2012.
  • Fiat based commercial vans will come in 2012.
Chrysler Brand
  • Fiat 500 will be sold through select Chrysler dealerships next year.
  • The Sebring sedan and Town&Country minivans will be upgraded much like the Dodge version in 2010.
  • New 300c sedan in 2010.
  • Chrysler receives Fiat based small car, mid size car and crossover between 2012 and 2013.
  • Patriot and Compass receive major upgrades in 2010 and are replaced by one Fiat based SUV in 2013.
  • A smaller SUV will slot below the Patriot/Compass replacement, also in 2013.
  • The Wrangler will receive significant upgrades (interior/exterior) in 201o and 2011 including a diesel engine with start/stop function.
  • Previously debuted Grand Cherokee goes on sale next year.
  • Fiat engine technology (diesel/multiair/direct injected turbos) will be used.
  • Dodge hybrid knowledge will be used by Fiat.
  • 3.6 liter 280 horsepower V6 will be used.
  • Hemi engines survive, new 6.4 liter Hemi with around 450 horsepower will be used!
The use of Fiat technology will certainly help Chrysler, but it's long term success depends on how well the public react to the upcoming Fiat based products which will comprise the majority of its lineup.

Next Generation Dodge Charger Teaser Shot

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

October 2009 Sales At a Glance

October was a gentler month for the auto industry as roughly half of the brands were able to post sales figures that improved upon last October. Hyundai, Kia and Subaru lead all brands with sales improvement of over 40%. Trailing everyone were Smart, Saab and Hummer with over 70% declines. Mercedes, Cadillac and Lexus lead the luxury segment with around 20% improvement. Of note is the appearance of the Ram brand featuring Chrysler's pickups and the Sprinter work van.

(click on chart to enlarge)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mysterious Audi Interior

Here are a few photographs of an intriguing new Audi interior. First thought to be the interior of the forthcoming A8, it is now believed to be a new version of the A4 interior. The most noticeable change to the standard A4 interior is the revised instrument panel featuring a large display between the tachometer and speedometer. While the Audi that the interior belongs to will remain a mystery for now, expect to see the new display and gauges coming to an Audi in the future.