30th August 2010

2011 Buick Regal Earns IIHS Top Safety Pick

The 2011 Buick Regal has received the Top Safety Pick designation in the large-car category by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

To earn the award, a vehicle must receive the top rating of Good in front, side, rear and rollover crash tests. The vehicle also must have electronic stability control, which is standard on the Buick Regal.

Measurements taken from the dummies used during the Regal’s testing show a low risk of significant injury in a 40-mph frontal offset crash. During side impact testing (pictured above), rib fractures would be possible for the driver and there is a low risk of any significant injury for the rear passenger in the type of simulated crash performed during IIHS’ testing.

The Buick Regal is the seventh vehicle from GM to earn a Top Safety Pick award since the Institute implemented a tough roof-strength requirement to test vehicle rollover safety.

To pass IIHS’ roof-strength test, a vehicle’s roof must be able to withstand the force of four times the vehicle’s weight. The Buick Regal can withstand 4.97 times its own weight.

The 2010-2011 Buick Lacrosse has earned a Top Safety Pick award. The 2008-10 Buick Enclave was also a Top Safety pick, but that was before the roof-strength test and the Institute has not tested the crossover in that category. The 2006-10 Buick Lucerne has a Good rating in the frontal crash test but Acceptable in side impact. It has not been tested for rollover strength.

2011|Buick|Regal

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30th August 2010

Russian Car Market Off To The Races. Again

The fate of the car industry depends highly on the price of oil. Higher oil prices, lower car sales. Lower oil prices, higher cars sales. Everywhere but Russia.

Russia’s main export is energy. Oil and gas. When oil climbed, the Russians were rolling in money and bought cars like crazy. Then came 2008. Oil crashed. The market crashed. Russian oligarchs went bankrupt. The car market followed. Unit sales of passenger cars dropped 50 percent last year. The annual Moscow Motor Show was cancelled. Automakers were worried about their investments into the Russian market. The Russians tried to protect their industry, raised import tariffs. The market plummeted more. Now, all of this is ancient history.

The market and the auto show are back. Last Wednesday, the Moscow Motor Show opened its doors, and exhibitors are writing orders, . In July, Russians bought 48 percent more cars than in June. Automakers have regained confidence in Russia.

According to The Nikkei [sub], the Russian car market has a much greater growth potential than the U.S. and Europe. “Only 230 vehicles are owned by every 1,000 Russians, compared with some 700 in Europe and 900 in the U.S.” (The Nikkei numbers are a bit high.)

Japanese carmakers are coming back into the Russian market.

“You’ve got to fish where there are fish,” Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko said.

Demand is high for large four-wheel drive cars in Russia, where SUVs account for 20 percent of total car demand.

Luxury is also back from the dead. Bentley plans to market its “Mulsanne” model, priced from 450,000 euros (571,140 dollars), in the country. Despite the high sticker price, Bentley has already received so many preorders that customers now placing orders must wait for delivery until after early next year.

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30th August 2010

Video: Crysler’s reinvention continues with new Jeep commercial

After a year of having its share of ups and downs – more on the latter, actually – Chrysler is in the middle of reinventing itself with the hopes of returning to its former place as a competitor in the auto industry. As part of their efforts, the US brand is aggressively marketing both its Jeep and Dodge brands with a series of carefully-planned commercials to ensure consumers that the rough patches have passed, and that the company has come back better and stronger than ever before.
As part of this campaign, Chrysler has released a number of commercials featuring the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the latest one being appropriately called, “Stronger”.

In the ad, Chrysler details the painstaking lengths that go in building Jeep’s new flagship SUV while carefully pointing out the importance of the vehicle in the company’s attempt to restore the brand’s image and reputation. As the ad ever-so poignantly says, Chrysler isn’t “building just a car, it’s building a company.”

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30th August 2010

Callaway Silverado: Reeves Callaway gives us more details

Callaway Silverado: Reeves Callaway gives us more details

by Dan Roth (RSS feed) on Aug 29th 2010 at 7:45PM

Reeves Callaway makes the point that his company’s Silverado program is extremely new by saying, “Anything I may have said in this conversation may not be true, ’cause I don’t know what I’m talking about yet.” Modest and super-nice, he’s emphasizing that our recent phone chat covering the details of Callaway Cars’ move into the realm of pickup trucks is about a project that’s still in its early stages of execution.

“We’ve got an outline of what we would like to do, now the task is do it, test it,” Callaway says. Having made its name building highly-modified Corvettes since the 1980s, Callaway Cars’ diverse endeavors have stretched from turbocharger kits for BMWs and Alfa Romeos to building and supporting the Corvette Z06.Rs that race in the FIA GT3 European Championship Series, so a pickup truck shouldn’t be all that shocking.

“We’ve got all of the infrastructure in place to service the Corvette and Camaro,” Callaway explains, “we figured it’s logical to do a pickup truck too, if for no other reason than the powertrain is already done. We have loads of experience with that.” While the tuning is obviously different between the V8s in the Corvette and the Silverado, they use essentially the same engine.

Callaway explains the development program has two main objectives. First, “make the power, which we looked at as the easier of the two.” Second, and perhaps more challenging, Callaway wants to do “something that nobody really has ever done, in my experience with a pickup truck, and that is [to] make it handle like a Corvette.” This is where you roll your eyes and say, “how are they gonna pull that off.” Follow the jump and keep reading to find out.

The guys that build the Corvette race cars in Callaway’s Leingarten, Germany operation will be tasked with making the Silverado dance. “We have assembled a really world class bunch of engineers who are concerned with making the car handle, so I think we’re quite good at that,” Callaway confidently explains. “We’re going to take all those guys who have won the FIA championship for the past four years and assign them the task of making the truck handle like a BMW or like a Corvette or like a Porsche.”

While many of the details are still up in the air as development progresses, we caught Reeves accruing evaluation miles on a brand-new 2011 Silverado, so there are some certainties. “It will be supercharged and powerful, it will have a great-looking set of wheels and tires, and it will be positioned at the right ride height to indicate that it’s something special.”

None of these goals are impossible if you’re building $200,000 half-ton pickups, but that’s not the plan. “You’d probably sell five of those,” says Callway. “We all know the pickup truck market is even more price-sensitive than the Corvette and Camaro market, so this is going to have to be a menu-driven program.” Going a-la-carte allows buyers to pick and choose the regular production options that are most important to them. If it’s speed, that’s one checkbox, handling is another, and the whole shooting match will likely run at similar levels to what the Callaway supercharger options cost on Corvettes and Camaros, which would put the total cost in the $50,000 arena; not unheard of for some current trucks.

Why would a company known for its sports and racing cars move into pickup trucks, that most utilitarian of segments? “The dealers were asking for it,” Callaway says, and pickup trucks are both huge sellers and a common canvas for customization. “We have a nice little system set up and we were just looking for more product to put through, and realizing that the truck is such a popular platform, why not do it?”

That’s got to be comforting news for the small network of Callaway dealers that look out their showroom windows upon handfuls of Corvettes and Camaros and rows and rows of pickups. “I’m perfectly willing to develop our version of the truck and then leave it to our dealers to drive the sales,” Callaway tells us.

Familiarity with the powertrain and long-running status as a top-notch low-volume manufacturer means that Callaway isn’t likely to fumble the execution on its super-Silverado. We’ve respectfully asked for an opportunity to drive one of the mules when possible, and that opportunity will be forthcoming. In the meantime, Callaway says that other than telling dealers a truck is coming, the schedule is a little loose. “We’re looking forward to having it done by SEMA time, whether that means it’ll be on display at SEMA or not, I don’t know.” Whenever it shows up, one thing is certain: the Callaway Silverado will be fully capable of announcing its presence with a V8 roar and neck-straining cornering.

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29th August 2010

Tokyo to LA – The Hard Way – In a Suzuki Kizashi: Day 13

(OUTSIDE) SUSUMAN TO MAGADAN
We’re relieved to find no flats to either Kizashi or any of the other vehicles when we awake.  It was a cold night, but nowhere near as chilly as our first night of camping.

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29th August 2010

Chrysler dealers to meet in Detroit to hear Fiat pitch

About 400 Chrysler Group LLC dealers from across the United States are expected to gather at the Detroit Institute of Arts on Monday for an intensive session intended to help them decide whether to make the investment needed to sell the Fiat and Alfa brands.

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