10 Tiny Bits of Automotive News – January 21, 2013

Batmobile

1. GM CEO Dan Akerson let go of his incredible 1958 Corvette for a charity auction conducted by Barrett-Jackson and the car hammered for $270k. All the proceeds went to Habitat for Humanity Detroit.

2. The US Treasury has taken steps to sell off it’s remaining 300 million shares in GM. The shares are trading at $29 at the time of this writing.

3. In our first recall of this week, Honda is recalling 748k Odyssey and Pilot models over airbag concerns.

4. According to the 14th Annual Global Automotive Executive Survey by KPMG LLP, global auto executives say Volkswagen and BMW are the two favorites to increase global market share over the next five years. Perceptions of Hyundai’s likelihood to gain share have fallen while Toyota jumps after two down years. U.S. auto brands are also strongly positioned among major global brands.

5. The Detroit Auto Show is history. The C7 Corvette stole the show, but there were other notable cars, including the Benz CLA, the Destino (think Fisker only more reliable and expensive) the Cadillac ELR (one of two electric cars on the list) and the massive, brutish, Ford Atlas Concept – sure to be driven by Viagra subscribers everywhere.

6. If you are a car guy in Iran, your luck is running out. Maserati and Lamborghini are joining Daimler, Toyota, Porsche, Hyundai, Peugeot and Fiat in halting sales to Iran.

7. One of six original Batmobiles produced for the 1960s ABC “Batman” TV series has sold at the Barrett Jackson auction for $4.6 million.

8. A new online service enables car shoppers to test drive vehicles without going to a dealership. Tred, a Seattle startup with ties to former GM CEO Rick Wagoner, cuts dealership trips by delivering new vehicles for consumers to test drive and possibly purchase.

9. Alfa Romeos to be sold in U.S. again by year’s end with the new 4C sports car.

10. The Toyota Prius C, the newest member of Toyota Prius “family,” has been named the nation’s “greenest” vehicle by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Cadillac ATS Car of the Year

The 2013 Cadillac ATS has been named North American Car of the Year at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The 2013 ATS  is the most agile and lightweight Cadillac, with one of the lowest curb weights in the segment – less than 3,400 pounds (1,542 kg). A broad lineup of engines – including two four-cylinders and a V-6 for North America – delivers strong power to the ATS and capitalizes on the car’s lightweight structure to complement its performance with efficiency.
 
The optional engines include an all-new 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 270 horsepower (201 kW) and Cadillac’s award-winning 3.6L V-6, estimated at 318 horsepower (237 kW). At 135hp/L, the new 2.0T is one of the most power-dense engines in the industry, topping engines from European competitors. 
 
ATS will offer both manual and automatic transmission options, along with rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations. The ATS delivers peak highway fuel economy of more than 30 mpg.

10 Tiny Bits of Automotive News – January 15, 2013

porsche

1. Rolls-Royce isn’t suffering from any financial recession. They just recorded their best sales year ever.

2. The International Olympic Committee likes German cars – but they are apparently tired of the Mercedes and has selected Audi as the official car of the IOC.

3. Bloomberg News is reporting that the U.S. District Court in California threw out a class-action lawsuit brought by Toyota Prius and Lexus owners over a 2010 recall due to failed anti-lock brakes.

4. Chevrolet has surpassed Ford in sales to the U.S. government for the first time since the so-called “auto bailout.”

5. If you look at the number of partial shots we’ve seen of the new C7 Corvette you could build the final car. Automobile Magazine has leaked a cover shot which is allegedly the new Vette. We’ll know in just a few days as GM will debut the car at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.

6. The original Porsche 959 prototype will be on the block at Barrett-Jackson auction in Arizona next week.

7. Ford is making news by showing an increase of sales to China of 21% and the announcement of 2200 new white collar jobs to open during 2013.

8. Honda is bringing 50 new jobs to Ohio. The Japanese auto maker announced it’s spending $23 million in its Marysville, Ohio plant to make the upcoming 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid.

9. The new Cadillac ATS was named the North American International Car and Truck of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show.

10. Last but not least, Chevrolet stopped teasing us and finally released the details of the new C7 Corvette. It’s not a radical departure from the C6 but there are enough changes that most of the critics think it looks good.

Meet (Finally) the New Corvette C7 Stingray

C7 Corvette

C7 Corvette

The media received an early reveal on the new C7. Videos and a rock guitarist on stage helped amp up the excitement. The new Corvette Stingray (yes Stingray) is new from the ground up. The new car us a slightly longer, lower, wider body without taking away any interior space. It’s full of sharp angles and sex appeal. It’s got a very European view. It’s instantly recognizable as a Corvette but you can see some great changes. It has new aerodynamics that actually work. (No fake vents here.)

There are competition sport seats available, five times stiffer steering, an improved refined interior with real carbon fiber, not fake plates. This is all driven by a new LT1 small-bock V8 6.2-liter displacement as the C6, here producing 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque backed by either a seven-speed manual or a six-speed paddle-shift automatic.

From the side the car looks like a Lambo or a Nissan GT-R. From the back it looks a bit like the Camaro. (The back of the car will be the most polarizing.) From the top it might pass for an Aston Martin or even a Ferrari. From the front it just plain looks mean.

The Stingray has Michelin Pilot Super Sports that are slightly narrower than those on the C6. It has an aluminum frame that helps the Corvette go zero to 60 MPH in under four seconds. GM claims the stock Stingray is faster than an up-model C6 GrandSport.

Available is the Drive Mode Selector offering five general settings, Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track. These can be customized.

There will be a Z51 performance package for track-happy customers. But stock this thing just plain LOOKS fast – whether you track yours or not you’ll gain respect.

Pricing is not available, nor is the car – until Approximately September 2013. GM says it will be competitive with the current Corvette. Expect to pay a premium to get one of the first units in your area.

As a long-time Corvette fan I was very worried about how GM would handle this new version of the venerable Vette. They had a fine line to walk. They couldn’t afford to completely alienate us old guys who have been the main-stay Corvette buyer, but at the same time, they wanted to attract a younger buyer. It’s my opinion (based on what limited information we have available) that they did it just right. They didn’t get radical, but they made enough changes that people will be excited about the car. It’s price point makes it very desirable. There’s nothing on the market that can touch a $50,000 sports car with these kind of specs.

As soon as possible I’ll drive one of these bad boys and give you my full opinion. And yes, as soon as the dealer codes show up I’ll order my C7 – in red of course.

Jeep Sets All-Time Sales Record in 2012

2013-jeep-wrangler-rubicon-628

Chrysler announced its Jeep brand set an all-time global sales record in 2012. The company sold 701,626 units which is a 19-percent sales increase worldwide over 2011.

I just purchased a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. It is the sixth Jeep I have owned in my lifetime. All of them have been under-rated, and under-appreciated. They don’t get the respect that Land Rover does, but they do the job (in my opinion) as well or better, and for much less money.

I recently test drove a fully-loaded Toyota FJ, Land Rover Sport and the Jeep Trailhawk. The Jeep cost somewhere in the middle but provided almost as supple a ride as the Land Rover while offering as much or more off-road capacity as any of the three. I could have purchased any of the three and probably been happy, but the Jeep seemed like the best compromise of supple on-road ride and serious off-road capability for a value price.

The Jeep brand is alive and these sales numbers show more proof that letting Chrysler go bankrupt would have been a big mistake.

Now if we could only do something about the general ineptitude of most Chrysler dealerships. But I digress…