Published Thursday, 30 June, 2011 by Brent Cacaro.
Published Thursday, 30 June, 2011 by Brent Cacaro.
Published Thursday, 30 June, 2011 by Brent Cacaro.
Published Tuesday, 28 June, 2011 by Brent Cacaro.
WASHINGTON ‚?? The Obama administration is telling U.S. automakers that it would like cars and light trucks to average 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025 ‚?? a boost to fuel economy that would save consumers money at the gas pump and help with global warming but drive up the cost of automobiles.
Administration officials floated the number at separate meetings last week with the Detroit Three ‚?? General Motors, Ford and Chrysler ‚?? according to people in government and industry familiar with the discussions. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk publicly about them.
While it is just a starting point, the figure is the first hint of where the government may be headed as it works to set a 2017-2025 fuel economy standard. Last year, the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency said they would consider a federal standard somewhere between 47 mpg and 62 mpg.
The upper end of the range would mean a massive shift in what Americans drive. A government analysis found about half the lineup of new vehicles would need to be gas-electric hybrids under the most aggressive standards. The technology needed to achieve a 56 mpg standard, according to administration estimates, would add $2,100 to $2,600 to the price of a car. But because the vehicles would need less fuel, owners would make up the difference with fewer trips to the gas station.
Environmentalists are pushing for the most stringent standard, but automakers have thus far said they would be willing to work over the next eight years on vehicles that get between 42.6 and 46.7 miles per gallon.
The Obama administration is hoping to find some common ground and reach a deal before it makes a formal proposal in September. Once a standard is reached, other automakers will be informed.
Early in 2009, the White House announced a landmark agreement with automakers and states requiring cars and light trucks on average to achieve 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 and set the first-ever standards for greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes.
The stakes are higher this time around, since legislation to curb climate change is no longer being pursued by the White House, which is looking for other ways to address global warming. High gasoline prices have also put pressure on the administration not only to find ways to boost oil supply, but also to reduce demand.
"We continue to work closely with a broad range of stakeholders to develop an important standard that will save families money and keep the jobs of the future here," White House spokesman Clark Stevens said in a statement. "A final decision has not been made, and as we have made clear we plan to propose a standard in September."
The goal of 56.2 mpg is tough, but General Motors will figure out a way to reach it, said Mark Reuss, the company's North American president. He would not say what technologies GM would use to reach the target, but he conceded that many easier, less-costly solutions already are under way or have been done such as switching to smaller engines and developing more fuel-efficient transmissions.
"When you put those things in for the first time, they may be more expensive," he said. "But this is a volume and scale industry. What was very expensive in the past is no longer very expensive."
Ford Motor Co., in a written statement, said discussions with the administration are continuing, but that it "supports increasing fuel economy requirements with one national program that is data driven and factors in the impact ... on jobs, the economy, consumers and safety."
Last September in Orlando, Jeep CEO Michael Manley, set Jeep forums and internet chat rooms ablaze by hinting that a Jeep pickup truck was in the future. No one knew what the tuck was or where it came from‚?¶ Until now.
By hinting we mean, Manley concluded a speech to Jeep deal group by saying, ‚?? ‚??You never know what might show up in your showroom someday‚?? and coolly exited the stage as the stunned audience glimpsed a yellow Jeep concept through sheer curtains.
Speculation was set aflame by the fact that no one got more a fleeting glance of the truck. There were no images of video footoage taken. Was it based on the Nukizer M715 Jeep released that year in Moab? Perhaps a take off of the J8 Egyptian Military Spec Jeep, the 2005 Gladiator Concept, or something new all together? The Jeep design team certainly didn‚??t know. They were busy sketching concepts of the redesigned Wrangler due out in 2012. The guys in charge of the Ram Truck division over a hearty, ‚??Hell, no!‚?? when asked about the possibility of production.
Automotive News and other news sites were quick to debunk the production of a Jeep based truck; calling it all hype. Ram certainly wasn‚??t happen about a the possibility of it‚??s sister brand cannibalizing their sales. Let‚??s face it Michael Manley never said the Jeep was headed for production when he walked off the stage. But what no one counted on was the fact that Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was behind the idea.
The Jeep is none other than the 2005 Jeep Gladiator Concept with a new yellow job covering the original Armour Green. After crisscrossing the states for media blitzes and auto shows in 2005 the concept was retired to the Walter p. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan. After disappearing from display for a few short weeks it is now sitting back behind the velvet rope sporting its new bright yellow paint.
The 2013 Gladiator will most likely be a cross between the 2005 concept and the Nukizer M715. It will be powered by the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, 280 horsepower (209 kW) at 6,400 rpm and 260 lb.-ft. (353 Nm) of torque at 4,800 rpm, that sits under the hood of the 2011 Grand Cherokee, and will power all Jeep Wrangler in 2012. The bed will be shortened to 5ft too add two more feet to the passenger compartment, but will use a tailgate extender (like the Ford Explorer Sport) to accommodate larger objects.
Like the current Wrangler the new Jeep truck will be built in Toledo and will sit atop a front Dana 30 and rear Dana 44 axles, and be mated with a new Fiat transmission. The word is the Jeep is consider using the Gladiator name or reviving the Scrambler moniker.
Cadillac unveiled the XTS Platinum Concept at the 2010 North American International Auto Show, suggesting a new paradigm for the luxury sedan of the future. The concept showcases Cadillac's emerging top-of-the-line Platinum series of models, emphasizing new expressions of luxury and technological features, including a plug-in hybrid propulsion system.
The XTS Platinum Concept was designed from the inside out, re-imagining the luxury sedan as a personal headquarters, built for efficiency, luxury and connectivity. The concept introduces a new approach to in-car electronics that improves the form and function of the car's entertainment, navigation and information systems.
"The XTS Platinum concept is the next expression of Cadillac's Art and Science execution philosophy, reflecting our drive to deliver the latest innovations in the most artful manner," said Bryan Nesbitt, Cadillac general manager. "We envisioned this concept as an automotive personal headquarters, using advanced technology to enable new levels of connectivity and luxury."
The XTS Platinum Concept uses Cadillac's 3.6L V-6 Direct Injection gas engine, paired with a plug-in hybrid system. The plug-in technology enables the battery to fully charge from a standard electrical outlet, enabling pure electric propulsion in many driving situations, especially urban commutes in which fuel efficiency may double that of a conventional hybrid.
Traditional luxury sedans were defined by elegant interiors and Cadillac's XTS Platinum Concept propels that formula into the future. It delivers new approaches to luxury within a design that combines fine craftsmanship with customer-driven innovation. Like the current Platinum Edition products, such as Escalade Platinum and the STS and DTS Platinum sedans, the interior is based on hand cut-and-sewn materials. The XTS Platinum Concept injects more contemporary forms and themes into the interior design, including the use of Organic Light-Emitting Diode (O-LED) displays in place of traditional gauges and screens.
The concept previews a new integration philosophy guiding the development of future models with respect to in-car electronics. The intent is to progress Cadillac's intuitive in-car electronics systems, typified by the deployable touch-screen navigation system that has been highly acclaimed in the brand's CTS and SRX product lines. The XTS Platinum Concept previews this strategy via the minimization of traditional buttons and switches. Designers blended the display screens into a flowing instrument panel. They call it a "dead front" design, because the panels appear black until the car is turned on and the screens illuminate. The instrument panel itself reflects the XTS Platinum's other focus ‚?? uncompromising luxury and attention to detail on the interior. "The Platinum distinction in Cadillac means the fullest extent of luxury and technology and we've tried to reach even further with this concept," said Clay Dean, Cadillac design director. "Just as the technology pushes the boundaries of what a Cadillac can offer, so do the details that make the XTS Platinum Concept an uncompromising experience."
The interior takes inspiration from nature, specifically the intricate layers of petals that combine to form an orchid. Cadillac designers translated that into a layered and detailed interior. Light cream is the cabin's primary color and is contrasted with darker elements, such as the steering wheel and an overhead console motif that runs the length of interior's roof. The console is made of a richly finished wood and houses lighting features.
Premium leather seats include a new style of automotive suede, with a laser-etched pattern. The patterned material adorns the center sections of the seats and accents the door trim. Thoughtfully detailed stitching is used throughout the interior, including the seats, instrument panel and door panels. Passengers in the spacious rear compartment of the XTS Platinum Concept also have access to the car's connectivity feature, along with a range of infotainment choices.
"We never lost sight of the fact that a large luxury sedan needs to be spacious and accommodating," said Dean. "Passengers will find generous headroom, legroom and knee space, along with the technology elements that make the drive more productive." A new proportion The XTS Platinum Concept has a distinctive proportion that transcends the traditional aesthetic of luxury sedans and carries the brand's Art and Science design in a more progressive manner. The unique proportion supports the "inside out" design priority, while creating a sleek profile that complements the car's advanced technology elements and necessary aerodynamics.
"The XTS Platinum Concept design artfully conveys its focus on functionality through technology," said Dean. "It is the antithesis of the conventional three-box sedan, suggesting the active evolution of Cadillac's design language." A sweeping profile culminates in a short, high deck lid that meets the XTS Platinum Concept's aerodynamic needs ‚?? including a rear spoiler mounted on the deck lid, incorporating the center high-mounted stop lamp. A high, sloping beltline gestures the vehicle forward, suggesting motion, while the fenders flare outward wrapping tightly around 20-inch wheels and tires. The wheel-to-body proportion was carefully tailored to visually communicate the car's all-wheel-drive chassis.
Like the interior, the exterior elements are precisely tailored and elegantly detailed. Brushed billet aluminum trim is used selectively and the 20-inch, six-spoke wheels feature a machined aluminum face accented with bright inserts within the spokes. The wheels are wrapped with special Bridgestone tires that were created specifically for the XTS Platinum Concept.
Signature elements essential to Cadillac's Art and Science design language include vertical headlamp and taillamps, with integrated light pipes and richly detailed lighting components. The headlamps feature light-emitting diode technology for bright illumination that requires less energy, as well as Cadillac's Adaptive Forward Lighting technology, which turns the headlamps with the direction of the front wheels for greater visibility in turns.
Purposeful and efficient performance
The XTS Platinum concept's plug-in hybrid electric propulsion system (PHEV) builds on the experience Cadillac has gained with the Escalade Hybrid and Escalade Platinum Hybrid flagship models. The plug-in capability boosts the car's electric-only driving capability, offering additional battery energy capacity and enabling it to recharge from a standard external electrical outlet. The key benefit of external plug-in recharging is that in many situations ‚?? such as overnight parking ‚?? the battery can fully recharge in roughly five hours while the car is not in use. The plug-in system operates at maximum efficiency when operating on power the battery has drawn from the electric grid. In some conditions, such as urban commutes, drivers can experience efficiency that doubles that of conventional hybrids.
At higher speeds or when conditions demand it, such as brisk acceleration, a combination of engine power and electric power or engine power only, propels the vehicle. The combination of the Direct Injection V-6 engine and the PHEV system featuring fully electric variable drive provides a spirited driving experience. The system provides an estimated 350 horsepower (260 kW) and 295 lb.-ft. of torque (400 Nm).
Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) enables the XTS Platinum Concept to deliver superior road-holding performance while maintaining luxury car composure in "regular" driving conditions. It uses shocks controlled by advanced magneto-rheological technology, rather than mechanical valves, to greatly accelerate response time and precision.
MRC uses electronic sensors at all four wheels to literally "read the road" every millisecond, making constant adjustments to damping to create virtually instantaneous and extremely precise control of body motions.
An advanced, specially calibrated all-wheel-drive system ensures optimal traction in wet and slippery conditions, and helps deliver maximum traction while cornering. Four-wheel disc brakes, with four-channel ABS, StabiliTrak stability control and full-function traction control complete the drivetrain details.
"The XTS Platinum Concept was designed to deliver an engaging driving experience without compromising the functional features, space and comfort customers seek in a luxury car," said Nesbitt. "It is a new vision of luxury that uses advanced technology to deliver functionality efficiently and rewardingly."
Cadillac has been a leading luxury auto brand since 1902. In recent years, Cadillac has engineered a historic renaissance led by artful engineering and global expansion.
At the Buenos Aires auto show this week, Chevrolet is showing another concept of its next-generation Colorado pickup, this time in jacked-up, left-hand-drive, double-cab ‚??Rally‚?? form. When we last saw the truck three months ago‚??halfway around the world in Thailand‚??it was as the sleek, right-hand-drive, extended-cab Colorado concept. This latest take is a real feast for the eyes, with fat fenders, front and rear winches, and more ancillary lights than an ambulance. The production version certainly will be toned down, but from what we can tell from looking at both trucks, the next Colorado is going to look pretty cool.
We‚??re still unclear on whether we will see the truck in North America. Chevy PR isn‚??t much help, hemming and hawing when asked if we‚??ll get it, saying words to the effect of ‚??well, it‚??s a global truck,‚?? but little else. While the mid-size truck segment has been slow of late, a U.S. introduction for at least a commercial version of the Colorado is looking more and more likely, given that the same economic forces that have made the Ford Transit Connect viable for the van market also apply to pickup market. Such a truck would have to prove beefy enough to handle professional duties, and would likely have to offer at least one gas-powered V-6 on the order sheet, although the 2.8-liter turbo-diesel supposedly installed in this Rally concept would probably pull as many stumps as any gas-fired six-pot GM could come up with.
‚??The Rally Colorado Concept is looking to the future of the global Chevrolet pickups,‚?? said GM, in a translated statement. We think that future ought to include GM‚??s home market.
General Motors Co said on Friday it would invest USD 65 million in existing engine plants in New York and Tennessee.
GM is spending USD 33 million at a plant in Tonawanda near Buffalo, New York, and will retain or create 100 jobs. The automaker also will put USD 32 million into a plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, about 30 miles south of Nashville, and fill 63 jobs.
Most of the jobs at the plants will be filled by laid off workers. The Tonawanda plant has 83 workers on lay off, down from 179 after GM's 2009 bankruptcy.
There are about 300 Spring Hill plant workers on lay off now, down from about 600 at the end of 2010, GM said.
The investments are part of a USD 2 billion effort by GM announced in May that the company said would keep or add 4,000 jobs in 17 plants in eight US states.
The newly announced New York investment of USD 33 million follows USD 825 million investment in that plant in 2010, said GM spokeswoman Mary Ann Brown.
The plants will make fuel-efficient 2.4-liter "Ecotec" four-cylinder engines for Chevrolet cars and crossover SUVs, including the Chevrolet Malibu sedan, Equinox crossover and GMC Terrain crossover.
The Malibu was the best-selling car in the US market in May, behind two pickup truck lines including the F-series from Ford Motor Co and the Chevrolet Silverado.
Tonawanda plant general manager Steve Finch said the plant now employs 850 workers and that all workers now on layoff would be called back by next spring.
Over the next few years, if sales of Chevrolet models continue to improve, another 300 to 500 jobs may be added, Finch said.
The Spring Hill plant has an idled auto assembly portion. It was an active assembly plant until the automaker's 2009 bankruptcy. The engine plant at Spring Hill, site of the original Saturn brand plant in the 1980s, continued to operate.
GM shut its Saturn brand in its 2009 make-over after its US-government sponsored bankruptcy and taxpayer bailout.
United Auto Worker vice president for GM affairs, Joe Ashton, said last month that the Spring Hill plant may be the first of GM's idled assembly plants to return to production. But neither he nor GM officials said when that may happen.
Published Friday, 17 June, 2011 by Dealer.com Support DO NOT DELETE.
Auburn Hills, Mich., May 19, 2008 - Chrysler LLC today extended to July 7 the Let's Refuel America $2.99 gas guarantee program, which offers customers the opportunity to lock in their gasoline purchases at $2.99 a gallon for three years, up to 36,000 miles. The program was launched on May 7 for the month of May only, but extended for a second month in response to dealer and customer demand for additional time.
Even before the full impact of the national and local advertising has been realized, the Let's Refuel America program already has created a high level of word-of-mouth consumer awareness, with increased traffic coming into Chrysler's 3,511 dealerships and onto its Web sites. After one week, Chrysler's Web site activity is up 25 percent versus the previous week, with internet leads increasing by 34 percent.
"Customers and dealers across America have told us they like the gas guarantee incentive option, so we are providing a second month for shoppers to take advantage of it," said Jim Press, Chrysler LLC Vice-Chairman and President. "Let's Refuel America, the Lifetime Powertrain Warranty and the New Day Packages are all examples of our commitment to deliver more value and peace-of-mind to our customers."
Let's Refuel America Program DetailsThrough July 7, Let's Refuel America is available on virtually all Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge compact vehicles, SUVs, sedans, minivans, and pickup trucks, including its five vehicles that get 28 mpg on the highway for an MSRP under $20,000. Not included in the program are the company's high- performance vehicles such as the Dodge Viper, Dodge Challenger, Chrysler Crossfire, and the entire SRT¬ģ lineup as well as the Dodge Sprinter, Dodge Ram Chassis Cab and Jeep Wrangler.
Customers who purchase or lease an eligible Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge vehicle have a choice of one of three incentive packages of similar value: Cash back; 0 percent financing (for eligible customers); or the gas guarantee program, which on some vehicles also includes up to $3,000 additional cash back. Only the Let's Refuel America incentive grows in value if gas prices rise. Upon purchase, customers can evaluate the three options with their dealer representative to determine which incentive best meets their personal financial preference and tolerance for risk related to rising gas prices.
"What our customers and dealers like best about this program is the flexibility of three incentive options, each with a unique benefit," Press said. "Some customers need cash back immediately for a down payment; others don't like paying high interest rates; and many are tired of worrying about rising gas prices and want to be protected. We are pleased to offer every customer a choice of what's best for their individual situation."
Customers who select the Let's Refuel America $2.99 gas guarantee program will receive a gas card (linked back to their own Visa or MasterCard) that is valid at 97 percent of gas stations in the United States. Purchases at the gas stations will be for the full price being charged that day, but only $2.99 per gallon will be billed back to the customers' credit card. Chrysler picks up the rest, regardless of how high gas prices rise.
After the May 7 launch of Let's Refuel America and before the full impact of the advertising has been realized, the highest take rates have been on the new Dodge Journey crossover, Dodge Caliber, Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring sedan.
"The most incremental incentives in this gas program are on the company's most fuel-efficient vehicles, which typically do not have this level of incentive available," Press said. "Our customers who buy smaller vehicles put great value on being protected against rising gas prices."
From a geographical perspective, the highest take rates have been in the states of California, Connecticut, Indiana, Ohio, and Washington. These five states are among the 12 highest fuel price states in the country.
"We are pleased that Let's Refuel America seems to resonate with many Americans during this time of gas price volatility," Press said.
From a marketing perspective, Let's Refuel America is supported by national television spots, Dodge Journey ads tagged with the program information and national print, radio and Internet presence.
Chrysler currently offers six models that get better than 28 miles-per-gallon on the highway: Chrysler Sebring, Chrysler Sebring Convertible, Dodge Avenger, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot and Dodge Caliber. Through April, these six models combined have higher sales than in the first four months of 2007.
The recently launched 2009 Dodge Journey comes with an available 173-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, helping it achieve best-in-class fuel economy.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel 3.0-liter engine provides a class-leading driving range of approximately 450 miles and gets an estimated fuel economy of 18 mpg/city and 23 mpg/highway for 4x2 models and 17 mpg/city and 22 mpg/highway for 4x4 models. Outside of North America, where fuel-saving diesel engines are in higher demand, Chrysler offers 17 models with diesel powertrains.
This fall, Chrysler will launch in the United States, two new hybrid SUVs--the Dodge Durango Hybrid and Chrysler Aspen Hybrid‚??boasting a fuel economy improvement of more than 25 percent overall and 40 percent in the city. In 2010, the Dodge Ram Hybrid will reach the market.
Chrysler currently is in the midst of a $3 billion powertrain investment offensive to develop new fuel-efficient powertrains and axles for its next-generation models.
Chrysler is committed to doing its share in meeting the nation's energy and environmental needs. Recently, Chrysler joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, to help find solutions to global greenhouse gas emissions.
In February, Chrysler created the industry's first Customer Advisory Board to encourage a direct dialogue with customers and gather insight and feedback. A recent Advisory Board survey generated the following results:
(As told by Mike Keegan, Chrysler LLC Vice President Volume Planning and Dealer Operations)
As part of our constant pursuit of innovative ways to deliver value to customers, Chrysler's incentive group put together a brainstorm session to create the next important incentive program that would tap into consumers' needs. In early March we hosted 25 Sales and F & I managers from our dealerships across the country in Detroit for meetings at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, Michigan. The first night the group got together at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum to soak up Chrysler culture and history. It was the first time we ever invited this group in and they were very enthusiastic. We told them we really want to hear from you since you are the closest to our customers. Tell us what their concerns are. They were separated into two groups with each group responsible for presenting three ideas each at the end of the day.
Both groups identified customer concern about the volatility of rising gas prices as a top issue in the marketplace today and suggested we find a way to alleviate customers concerns. These managers were really ahead of the curve, as the rise of gas prices had not yet become the national news story it is today. They really had the pulse of the market.
So we at Chrysler left with our assignment and immediately created a 30-40 person working group of Marketing, Sales, Incentives, IT, Legal, and Finance people that met every day for the next two months. The meetings were 5 pm every day conference calls, where each group reported out their progress.
Because we were doing something that had never been done before, there were hundreds of speed bumps along the way, but the team spirit drove a "how do we solve it" attitude with a commitment to working through challenges and not giving up. That is in the DNA of Chrysler, whether we are inventing the minivan, Viper, PT Cruiser or the Lifetime Powertrain Warranty. We were especially focused on making sure it would be a seamless process for the customer, which took a great deal of IT work. It is very exciting to have launched the program and to have gotten such a rousing reception from dealers and customers.
Going forward, we will continue to look for innovative ways to deliver value and satisfy the needs of our customers.
Published Friday, 17 June, 2011 by Brent Cacaro.
To compile this list of vehicles likely to hit dealer lots within 10 years time, we spoke with automakers about the concepts and prototypes they're working on now. Chris Borroni-Bird, director of advanced technology vehicle concepts at General Motors, and Mike Shulman, technical leader for Ford's active safety research and innovation program, shared insights into technologies they're developing that could become mainstream in the next decade.
Borroni-Bird and Shulman expect the industry to go through dramatic changes in the next couple of decades.
"If Henry Ford came back and looked at a car today, he'd say it's different but it's not that different," Shulman says. "The basic idea of the car is still there now ... but a lot is going change."
Automakers are working to answer one central question ‚?? how to provide sustainable transportation for people worldwide ‚?? but they're finding different solutions. GM is developing bio-fuel, hydrogen and pod cars for mass-transit and urban areas in Asia; Rolls-Royce is experimenting with a plug-in electric Phantom. Ford is developing electric, hybrid and super-efficient gasoline engines, each to be used for specific applications.
"Each of these different options has a role to play," Borroni-Bird says. "Rather than one engine supporting all different needs like has happened for the last 100 years, over time there will be more diversification of propulsion systems and energy sources. "
The way cars operate will also change: 10 years from now, many will use wireless signals to communicate with other vehicles on the road, therefore avoiding crashes and gridlock.
The change will be like moving from a PC to an iPhone. Your current car is like a 1980s desktop computer: large and isolated with no inter-communication between units. The vehicles of the future will be like smartphones: small, wireless and totally networked with each other.
"That's what's needed in urban areas to reduce congestion," Borroni-Bird says. "It's not enough to make vehicles safe and clean, which is what we need here in America where land is plentiful. In really dense cities, if you get stuck in traffic and you can't find anywhere to park or it's extremely expensive to park ... you'll want another kind of vehicle."
Bottom line: Expect to see a gradual move away from the internal combustion engine (it's not going away all together) toward a number of different fuel systems including diesel, biofuel, hydrogen, compressed natural gas and electricity. And take comfort in the knowledge that even though they're undergoing a few changes, top brands like Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari won't lose their high-performance edge.