10 Tiny Bits Of Automotive News – January 16, 2012

1. The Detroit Auto Show is in full swing and many new models have been announced or teased. There is a high level of excitement at the show despite the uncertainty of the economy and the auto business.

2. The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder concept will be built and will rely on unibody construction.

3. At the Detroit auto show the Hyundai Elantra was named 2012 North American Car of the Year and the Range Rover Evoque was named 2012 Truck of the Year.

4. Ford debuted the 2013 Fusion at the Detroit Auto Show and it’s absolutely stunning. It has a European, pretty, low-slung look. It almost looks as if Ian Callum designed it. Expect big things from this car.

5. In other news: No longer a tease, Dodge showed off the new Dart at the Detroit Auto Show. But did you get a load of that Ford Fusion?

6. Ford says SYNC is a success. Ford says the connectivity software has found its way into four million cars since its introduction in 2007. With European and Asian buyers getting SYNC for the first time this year, and North American offerings like the Fusion and Flex getting it as standard equipment, Ford expects to add nine million more users by 2015.

7. Car Advice reports that VW sold 8.16 million units in 2011, marking the first time it has eclipsed eight million global sales.. Toyota finished 2011 with 7.9 million sales, in part because of production disruptions resulting from the March earthquake in Japan.

8. BMW says it is expanding its operations in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The company has announced it will invest $990 million into the facility over the next three years to allow the plant to produce up to 350,000 vehicles each year.

9. Chevy announced a special edition 2013 Corvette 427 Convertible, complete with hardware borrowed from the mighty Corvette Z06. Under the hood, a 427-cubic-inch LS7 V8 produces 505 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, making this the most powerful Corvette Convertible ever produced. There will also be a 60th Anniversary package available with or without the 427 package.

10. Fiat announced pricing on the 2012 500 Abarth. MSRP starts at $22,000, *not including destination charges. The base car costs just $15,500. Abarth buyers get Fiat’s turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir engine producing 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. This makes the Fiat the most powerful in weight to horsepower ratio of its competition including the GTI, Mini Cooper S and Veloster Turbo.

Five Interesting Cars From the Detroit Auto Show

It’s back, it’s big, it’s exciting – the Detroit Auto Show is rocking the car world this week with some pretty amazing announcements – both concept and production cars are out there that I want to drive.

In no particular order:

1. Acura NSX

I’m not much for cars designed in Japan. But in the case of the NSX I may make an exception. It’s bold, it’s bad and it’s beautiful and moreover – it’s going to be built in Ohio. It has a hybrid powerplant and looks like a ton of fun.

2. 2013 Mini Roadster

There are two kinds of people in a car – drivers and riders. Either one can end up behind the steering wheel. If you’re the kind of person who is a driver, this car will catch your eye. Typical mini fun with the top down in a small car with up to 211 horsepower.

3. 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

The launch of the original Veloster was something of a disappointment to me and many others. It LOOKED fast and powerful but underneath, it judt didn’t have what it takes. Enter the turbo model and all that has changed. Throw in a few body changes and 201 horsepower that’s still delivering 38MPH on the highway and you should be good to go.

4. Smart For-Us

In a “hey that cool little Hot Wheels-looking truck might be fun to drive” kind of way, I was strangely drawn to the Smart For-Us concept. It’s an electric car/truck. It has 11.6 cubic feet of space and is, on almost every level, totally and utterly impractical and likeley won’t ever be sent into production – but it’s still plenty funky and therefor interesting.

5. Dodge Dart

Note the title of this post is INTERESTING cars from the Detroit Auto Show – not necessarily the cars I’d want. Enter the new Dart. Unlike the Charger/Challenger combo where Dodge tried to make something old new AND cool again, the Dart just looks like it’s a bad clone of an alien in one of those slimey science fiction movies on cable. But it is at least not as bad as I expected. It looks like it’s lost. Maybe I’ll warm up to it but it is interesting.

Ten Tiny Bits of Automotive News – January 9, 2012

1. In news that will no doubt anger those who have launched a campaign of hate against US automakers for political reasons, U.S. auto sales wrapped up a skittish 2011 on a positive note, surging in the final weeks of the year, with Detroit’s automakers helping drive the overall market to its highest level since the start of the long economic downturn.

2. in MORE news that will no doubt anger those who have launched a campaign of hate against US automakers for political reasons, six of the top ten selling cars in America in 2011 were made by one of the “big three.” Worse, HALF of those – (three) were made by companies that SHOCK took “bail out” money. Don’t you just love it when a plan works?

3. 53 percent of BMW drivers admit to using their horn at least once on every trip, nearly three times the national average of 18 percent. I guess when you overpay for a car you want to use every part of it – including the horn.

4. Despite the fact that it has been widely panned by critics, the 2012 Honda Civic is the best selling car in Canada. Oh those funny Canucks. There’s no accounting for taste.

5. If you want to buy cars made in America take note. 70 percent of Japanese vehicles sold in the U.S. were built on a North American assembly line.

6. Chevy is recalling 8000 Volts to enhance the vehicle’s structure and battery coolant system to protect against fire occuring days or weeks after a crash.

7. Will I Am – the leader of the Black Eyed Peas, has decided to throw his hat into the carmaking ring with a new company that he is calling IAMAUTO. If Will is designing cars that look anything like his on-stage costumes somebody better watch out. The cops might give him a bling ticket.

8. The grand-daddy of U.S. Auto Shows – the Detroit Auto Show announced it has signed an agreement to remain at the Cobo Center for at least five years.

9. HiGear, a peer-to-peer car-sharing start-up in the Bay Area that specialized in high-performance and luxury vehicles has had to cease operation after $300,000 worth of their cars were stolen. They should have used Yugos. Nobody would steal a Yugo!

10. In the “news that should surprise nobody because Adam Carolla is simply not funny” category, rumor has it that SPEED has cancelled “The Car Show.” Buh Bye!