Archive for December, 2007

The Finalists for the 2008 Urban Wheel Awards

December 28, 2007

The 12th Annual Urban Wheel Awards is just a few weeks far from now. Recently, the finalists for the event was proclaimed after an independent panel of judges – made up of 15 automotive journalists from multicultural, automotive trade, and general market media – cast their votes for the qualifiers.

According to Randi Payton, President and CEO of On Wheels, Inc. and founder of the awards, “The Urban Wheel Awards brings together top leaders in the auto industry with the multicultural community which represents their true customer base … Inclusion of all its customers in critical to building bridges to the multicultural community and to recognizing the contributions of minorities in the industry.”

The Urban Wheel Awards are being presented in categories, including Company of the Year, African-American, Asian and Latino automotive executives of the year, as well as minority Supplier of the Year. There will also be the Diversity in Motorsports awards – to acknowledge the commitment to diversity recognized in the racing arena. New to the program is the Urban Dealer of the Year award.

The finalists for the 2008 Urban Wheel Awards are as follows (courtesy of autochannel.com):

African American Executive of the Year

  • Bennie Fowler

VP, Quality
Ford Motor Company

  • Marshilia Snoddy

Zone Manager for Process Improvement, Southwest Zone
American Honda Motor Company

  • Ed Welburn

VP, Global Design
General Motors Corporation

Asian Executive of the Year

  • Takeshi Abe

Henry Ford Technical Fellow
Ford Motor Company

  • Ray G, Young

Group VP, GM Global Finance
General Motors Corporation

Latino Executive of the Year

  • Dave Mondragon

General Manager, Ford Motor Company Southwest Region
Ford Motor Company

  • Victor Nacif

VP Design, Business Aspects
Nissan Design America

Supplier of the Year

  • Detroit Chassis
  • Ewie Co. Inc.
  • Pinnacle

Company of the Year

  • Chrysler
  • Ford Motor Company
  • General Motors

Car of the Year

  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Honda Accord
  • Mercedes-Benz C Class

Truck of the Year

  • Buick Enclave
  • Chrysler Town & Country
  • Infiniti EX 35

Diversity in Motor Sports Finalists

  • National Hot Rod Association
  • STAR Motorsports
  • Urban Youth Racing School

Urban Dealer of the Year

  • Bill Perkins Automotive Group
  • Mike Pruitt Honda
  • Southaven Pontiac/Buick/GMC

The awards will be given at the Fox Theater in Detroit on January 15, 2008 – in conjunction with Press Preview Week of the North American International Auto Show.

Renault Clio for used car bargain hunters

December 21, 2007
Carcraft Rochdale, an independent group of used car hypermarkets and the largest in the North West, conducted a research that ended up honoring the Renault Clio as the top used car bargain.
Based from rochdaleonline.co.uk, “Research into the effect new car launches have on prices of older model used cars shows that you can drive away a bargain so long as you are not concerned about having the very latest design parked on your driveway.”The analysis of all car types revealed that the Renault Clio offers some of the best bargains these days. In fact, you can pick up a 56 plate Clio Campus 1.2 of the previous design around 7000 miles on the clock with your £5500. Carcraft estimates that it is equivalent to £1700 or 24 percent cheaper than an average model of the same year and mileage but with the newer design.

According to Howard Ryder, general manager at Carcraft Rochdale, “As soon as a new model is announced we see a fall of around 3 to 5% in the prices of the outgoing model. For prestige cars such as BMW this can be even higher, rising to between 10 and 15%.” “However, for real bargains you should wait until the new models start to enter the used car market, when buyers can see the different models side by side in the showroom. This is when the prices can differ by up to 30% even though, under the bonnet, you are essentially buying the same car,” he added.

Ryder expects that 2008 will be a vintage year for ‘model spotters’ looking for a bargain. He said, “A number of new models have recently come onto the market, which means there are plenty of competitively priced older models for bargain hunters to pick up early in the New Year … Three of the best examples are the Vauxhall Corsa, Peugeot 307 and the Mercedes C-Class.”

Pretty sure it is a great choice for those looking for used but good and cheap car.

Honda Jazz going strong in UK

December 17, 2007

Japan’s award-winning Honda Fit is having its sales going strong in UK, being the Jazz.

Honda Motor Corp., a Japanese automaker, has launched the Jazz in 2002. Since then, the company was able to have 134,399 units sold in the UK. The sales figure made the Jazz retain its top five sector position, though there are a lot of new competing products in the market these days.

In the past four year, Jazz made it up to the number one spot amongst its competitor set. An average of 19,300 units is being sold every year. Since it is really selling so well, Honda decided to delay the introduction of the new model in UK, until late in 2008.

With the demand for new and used Jazz examples, the residual values are at normal levels expected from a newly introduced car. That simply mean it is not like that of five years into its lifecycle. The Jazz must retain 40 per cent of its value after three years or an average of 60,000 miles.

As with the all-new Jazz … Honda sustained the popular small car with the its best features, including class leading economy, cabin space to rival mid-sized saloons, and easy maneuverability. But, it also brought subtle design changes as well as clever interior space solutions.

The new Jazz will be powered with either a 1.5 L i-VTEC or frugal 1.3 L i-VTEC – along with available CVT transmission. For enhance stability and handling, the Jazz now has a longer wheelbase and wider track.

Inside, there is a rotating passenger seat available. The seat now has a higher position than before. There is also an additional foot space, as well as specially contoured seat cushion.

The Jazz topped the recent J.D. Power Survey supermini sector – for the fourth consecutive years. It also led this year’s Which? Reliability tables. It is also kept unbeaten in five top 5 category finishes in the Auto Express Driver Power Survey. It was even awarded Best Supermini at the Fleet News Awards in 2006. Totally award-winning!!!

The wicked Genaddi Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster

December 12, 2007

Genaddi Design Group, a company in Green Bay Wisconsin in the United States, has recently released the details of the removable carbon fiber hard top that they are planning to produce for the Murcielago Roadster owners.

The hard top has been designed to fit easily in the front bonnet of the car. It can go on and off the car in just a minute – providing a very rewarding ownership experience of the Murcielago Roadster. The top can be stored in the car for easy on and off access in case of bad weather – making unplanned trips more enjoyable.

Now, you have more options to enjoy the car in different ways: as a Roadster, as a hard top, as a T-top and as a Targa top.

Though they might not be painted, all the pieces were finished in either dull or gloss finish of carbon fiber. Color matching, however, is quite hard. So, what you should better do is take it to your local dealer and let them provide your need for the car.

Another good thing about the top is that it is light-weighted and convenient to handle for most. It uses a proprietary system to keep it water tight.

Interesting, right? So… If you want to have one, you got to invest $26,000 to purchase it directly from Genaddi Design Group or through your Lamborghini dealer.

Honda Fit: November 2007 Best-Selling Car in Japan

December 8, 2007

Honda Motor Co.’s Fit compact car has been pronounced as top most best-selling car model in Japan for the month of November this year. It has overthrown Toyota Motor Corp.’s Corolla compact and ended its 13-month reign.

According to Japan Automobile Dealers Association, Honda was able to double the sales of the Fit to 18,138 units. On the other hand, Toyota’s Corolla slipped to the second spot, with sales dropping 10 percent from last year to 15,348 units this year. But, Toyota still managed to put eight of its model on the top 10 slots, including the minicars. Nissan Motor Co., the third largest automaker in Japan, placed eight with its Serena minivan.

The Top 10 models were composed of compact cars and minivans. As with the minicars, Sukuki Motor Corp.’s Wagon R placed second behind Fit as bestselling model.

Check out this list of Japan’s to best-selling automobiles (minicars excluded) in November, provided with the make and model, vehicle type, sales, percentage change from a year earlier and the rank as of October:

  1. Honda Fit – Compact – 18,138 (146.8%) – 3
  2. Toyota Corolla – Compact – 15,348 (-10.4%) – 1
  3. Toyota Vitz – Compact – 12,716 (28.8%) – 2
  4. Toyota Voxy – Minivan – 8,367 (74.9%) – 5
  5. Toyota Mark X – Minivan – 7,091 (73.4%) – 4
  6. Toyota Noah – Minivan – 7,004 (89.9%) – 6
  7. Toyota Passo – Compact – 6,681 (31.3%) – 8
  8. Nissan Serena – Minivan – 6,398 (16.0%) – N/A
  9. Toyota Estima – Minivan – 5,921 (-25.1%) – 9
  10. Toyota Prius – Compact – 5,532 (-6.5%) – 7

Australia’s Best Cars Top Models of the Year Awardees

December 6, 2007

 

Australia’s Best Cars has recently revealed its list of this year’s top models. After the country’s auto clubs voted for the winners the classy European Ford Mondeo came up to lead five new entries in the ranks.

The Ford Mondeo has reflected the changing face of Australian new-car showrooms. It has been one of over 50 new arrivals for 2007, which has been evaluated for the consumer-focused ranking.

Other than the Mondeo, the Volkswagen Golf R32, BMW M3, Nissan X-Trail and BMW X5 were the ones included in the Best Cars honour roll. According to news.com, “Each of them had to unseat an existing category winner in a contest that places as much importance on measurable consumer benefits – from safety and fuel economy to their green rating – as the judges’ rating of their driving ability.”

Ernest Litera, the chief judge of the Australia’s Best Cars contest, said, “The Mondeo reflects all the shifts in the market in one car.”

“This is a vehicle that has the space and comfort we’re traditionally found in a large car, and it is available with a diesel engine. The market is shifting to quality mid-size cars,” he added.

BMW, a German automaker, was also able to get two new winners in the ranking – the high-performance M3 and the diesel model of its new full-size X5 four-wheel drive. Both reflected the amount of technology in 21st century cars.

In this eighth Best Cars judging, over 250 contenders were tested prior to the final back-to-back assessment of 35 finalists at the Automotive Research Centre at Anglesea in Victoria.

Mike Harris, the executive director of the Australian Automobile Association, said, “These awards are not about the automotive industry – they are about the consumer… AAA and Australia’s automotive clubs represent more than 6.5 million members and these awards provide them – and all motorists – with an independent program.”

The ranking was made up of some repeat champions. Anyway, you may just check out the list below and see for yourself…

  • Small car – Volkswagen Polo TDI
  • Mid-size car under $28,000 – Honda Civic VTi
  • Mid-size car over $28,000 – Ford Mondeo TDCi
  • Large car – Toyota Aurion AT-X
  • People mover – Honda Odyssey Luxury
  • Sports car – Volkswagen Golf R32
  • Luxury sports car – BMW M3
  • Prestige car – Lexus IS250
  • Luxury car – Lexus GS450h
  • Recreational 4WD – Nissan X-Trail ST
  • Luxury 4WD – BMX X5 Diesel
  • All-terrain 4WD – Land Rover Discovery 3 SE TDV6

2008’s Hottest SUVs bringing more sport and utility

December 4, 2007

For 2008, SUVs are no longer the average gas-guzzlers. More sport and utility and additional fuel efficiency makes new SUVs hotter than ever. One of the most highlighted SUV revolution is these behemoths going hybrid and some in two mode hybrid posing greatest fuel efficiency in SUV history. Forbesautos.com lists the hottest 2008 SUVs to hit the road as the new year comes and 2007 say goodbye.

1. 2009 BMW X6
In an effort to make four-door vehicles sexier and more appealing, German manufacturers have taken to calling some of them, like the X6, “coupes.” Due in early 2008 and based on the more traditional X5, the X6 features a sweeping “fastback” design as seen on svelte two-door models.

2. Buick Enclave
We think the luxury-minded Buick Enclave is one of the best among a new breed of car-based large SUVs, called crossover utility vehicles. With handsome styling, a roomy and comfortable interior, and a high-quality feel, the Enclave is a nice alternative to traditional truck-based SUVs and minivans.

3. Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
The Escalade is one of Cadillac’s biggest successes in recent years. Adding a hybrid powertrain might seem odd for a truck this big. The two-mode hybrid system is expected to improve fuel economy by about 30 percent overall.

4. Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
The Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid, which share the same technology, have started hitting showrooms in late 2007. The Tahoe is positioned as the most economical of the three General Motors variants including the Escalade hybrid.

5. 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid
Chrysler worked with BMW and GM to co-develop the so-called “two-mode” hybrid system used in the Aspen and Dodge Durango. This jointly developed technology which allows electric-only propulsion at lower speeds marks the first application of such a system in large SUVs.

6. 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid
The Durango Hybrid is a dressed-down version of the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid. Both pack a 5.7-liter V8 engine mated to an electric motor and battery pack.

7. Ford Escape Hybrid
The Escape Hybrid and its equivalents at Mazda and Mercury are the most fuel-efficient SUVs on the road. The Escape hybrid combines a 2.3-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor/generator to deliver robust acceleration and 34 mpg city/30 mpg highway.

8. GMC Yukon Hybrid
The Yukon Hybrid shares its gas/electric powertrain with its GM twins — the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid and Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid — as well as with the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango hybrids.

9. Hummer H3 Alpha
The appeal of the new H3 Alpha variant is power: Its 5.3-liter V8 puts out 300 horsepower and is also used in the Chevy Silverado pickup.

10. Infiniti EX35
Infiniti is lavishing its latest technology on the sporty EX35, which will compete with a spate of slinky new CUVs, including the BMW X6.

11. Land Rover LR2
New for 2008, the LR2 packs a lively 230-horsepower six-cylinder engine and rides on a car-like suspension for better-than-average handling.

12. Lexus LX 570
The LX 570 is Lexus’ version of the Toyota Land Cruiser. A thorough update for 2008 makes it ride smoother, accelerate stronger, and look better than the outgoing model.

13. Mazda Tribute Hybrid
Mazda is conducting what amounts to a one-year test-marketing campaign for the new Tribute Hybrid, which is its version of the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

14. Mercury Mariner Hybrid
The Mariner Hybrid is more chic and pricier than the Ford Escape Hybrid. A new electromechanical power steering system, along with assorted suspension and chassis upgrades, enhance the car-like ride and handling.

15. Porsche Cayenne
After taking the 2007 model year off, the Porsche Cayenne returns with visual and mechanical tweaks. Available V6 and V8 engines gain power and a new GTS model slots between the S and Turbo variants in terms of price and performance.

16. Saturn Vue Green Line
The compact Saturn Vue gets all-new styling and updated chassis components for 2008, but the Green Line version retains the same hybrid technology for the time being.

17. Spyker Peking-to-Paris
The eye-catching and outrageous Spyker Peking-to-Paris starts at $287,500 and resembles more an overgrown wagon than an SUV. The small Dutch company that will start selling it in 2008 named it after a legendary 1907 endurance rally and says that it combines the functionality of an SUV with the personality and performance of an exotic sports car, thanks to an Audi-supplied 500-horsepower W12 engine.

18. Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The Highlander Hybrid is redesigned for 2008 with fresh styling, added features, and an updated gas/electric powertrain. Two electric motors (one at each axle) work with a 3.3-liter V6 gasoline engine to save fuel. A new “EV” mode allows the Highlander Hybrid to run for a greater period of time solely under electric power, while an “Econ” mode smoothes out throttle response to limit excessive acceleration.

19. Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota’s oldest model, the Land Cruiser, has evolved from its origins as a military-derived all-terrain vehicle into posh luxury hauler. Revamped for 2008, the latest generation rides on a revised frame, gets a more potent V8 engine, and adds amenities

[Source: Forbesautos.com]