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VW may not bring diesel Golf GTD to US after all

Posted Apr 18th 2014 4:30PM

2014 Volkswagen Golf GTD

There is some bad news for hot hatch fans who also love efficiency. The chances of the Volkswagen Golf GTD coming to the US are increasingly slim, according to an interview with Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn in Automotive News. Horn says that the model would cost too much to import from Germany. Cue the sad trombone.

"The GTD would be a great car. The price point is not really attractive. So the probability is sort of diminishing," said Horn. While other Volkswagen diesel engines for North America are built in Silao, Mexico, the factory can't support the high-output 2.0-liter diesel, he claims.

The Golf GTD seemed like a sure thing for the US market. It was slated to launch as a 2016 model for around $27,000. The opportunity of a hot hatch with 181 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque and over 40 miles-per-gallon fuel economy seemed perfect. Earlier, VW even brought a few previous-generation models for journalists to try out, and we liked it.

However, the GTD isn't completely off the table quite yet. "Within product planning it's still under investigation, but it's looking less likely," said Mark Gillies Manager of Product and Technology at VW US Media to Autoblog. He didn't say what caused plans to change.

As some sustenance to diesel fans, Horn tells AN that a cheaper version of the standard Golf TDI is coming. VW is also still deciding whether to add tooling to build all-wheel drive vehicles in Mexico. It would allow vehicles the Golf TDI SportWagen concept from the New York Auto Show to be made. Petrol hot hatch fans can look forward to the seventh-generation GTI in June.

Horse-drawn EVs for carriages? NYC may say 'neigh'

Posted Apr 18th 2014 1:29PM

Horseless eCarriage

For more than a century, horse-drawn carriages have been iconic fixtures in New York City. But the Big Apple's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has been on a crusade to put an end to the nostalgic rides, saying the carriages are cruel to the horses and a common source of traffic congestion. Amid this simmering controversy, a possible replacement for the horses emerged Thursday at the New York Auto Show. That's when Jason Wenig, an automotive restoration expert and Brooklyn native, unveiled the Horseless eCarriage, a battery-powered creation that took six years to plan and build.

On display in the lobby of the Jacob Javits Center, the antique-looking vehicle is at once a throwback to an earlier era in automotive history and a model of current electric-car technology. It can carry eight passengers, reach a top speed of 30 miles per hour and travel about 100 miles on a single charge. The 46-kWh battery feeds into a variable speed AV motor that produces – no pun intended – 84 horsepower. It's also huge, with a 158-inch wheelbase, a width of 88 inches and a height (to the top of the windshield, without the convertible hardtop) of 86 inches. It also weighs 7,500 pounds with driver and eight passengers.

"If you're going to do something, it's got to be big, bold and daring" – Jason Wenig

Perhaps most importantly, it seeks to retain the charm of the horse-drawn carriage. "I said to them, 'If you're going to do something, it's got to be big, bold and daring,'" Wenig said of his first conversations about the car. "If people are about to lose the brand they understand, this has got to fill that vacuum powerfully."

Not everyone is enamored with the idea. Traditionalists in the city say the carriages comprise a romantic part of the city's fabric, and they oppose the mayor's efforts to end the horse-drawn carriage era. So do carriage operators, who depend on the rides for their livelihoods.

A poll conducted by Quinnipiac University showed that 64 percent of New Yorkers support the carriages pulled by the actual equines. Actor Liam Neeson has been a vocal opponent of the mayor, and wrote an editorial supporting continued use of the horses this week in The New York Times. "An entire way of life and a historic industry are under threat," he wrote. "We should ask whether this is the New York we want to live in: a sanitized metropolis, where local color and grit are thrown out in favor of sleek futuristic buildings and careening self-driving cars?"

The Horseless eCarriage project was commissioned by NYCLASS, an animal-rights organization that is seeking more humane treatment of the horses. The group approached Wenig about six years ago to ask about the project, and as a native New Yorker an animal lover, it was a natural fit. "I'm not necessarily an activist, but I am an animal lover, so I understood where they were coming from," he said. "All of the sudden, I'm in the barn, trying to hammer out steel."

Sixty-eight carriages would be needed to replace the current stable of horses. Although it took Wenig the past six months to construct the first (and so far only) eCarriage prototype, he believes he could construct the entire fleet in a matter of months, should the project go forward. His current operation is located in Dania Beach, FL, but he says he may open another shop back in his hometown, to help complete the project quickly. In a Google Hangout last week, de Blasio said he expects to take action on the horse issue within the year, so you've got time to peruse the official press release below.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

New Fisker claims 50-50 chance it will build cars in Delaware

Posted Apr 18th 2014 11:51AM

fisker logo

As soon as the bankrupt Fisker Automotive started crawling back from the dead, rumors that the new owners would restart production of the Karma plug-in hybrid crawled as well. We've heard that the car would be built in the old General Motors plant the company owns in Delaware, that it would happen in Michigan or that Valmet would get going again in Finland. Nothing official has yet been announced, but Delaware Online is now saying that it's even money that Delaware to play a role in Fisker's physical rebirth.

"It definitely makes economic sense to consider [the Delaware] facility" – Roger Brown

Roger Brown is the interim president of Fisker Automotive and recently said that there is a "50-50" chance that the Newport, DE will be where the company rises again. "We inherited this situation, and because the facility is one of the assets we purchased, it has ... good bones, it has a paint shop, and you know, it definitely makes economic sense to consider that facility," he told Delaware Online.

Before Fisker's bankruptcy, Delaware offered over $20 million in incentives to get the automaker to build cars there. It never did, and a recent settlement agreement does not give the state much of a return on that money. The bankruptcy proceedings are not yet finished, but Brown made what has to be considered a bold statement. In deciding which locations makes sense to restart production, he said that, "if they provide incentives, obviously that would go into the equation; if they don't, obviously that would go into the equation also."

The closest that the new Fisker has come to saying where it will restart building cars is in documents that new owner Wanxiang filed with a federal court earlier this year. That three-part plan included restarting Karma production at Valmet, using partner VL Automotive's manufacturing facility in Michigan and then building the Atlantic somewhere. Brown gave a timeline to Delaware Online - new Karmas by August 2015, start building the Surf shooting brake by March 2016 and then add in the Atlantic by the end of 2017 - which would give Fisker time to tool up the Delaware plant for the Atlantic. Brown also said that building with VL Automotive has now been ruled out.

News Source: Delaware Online

Toyota launches new Passo hatchback in Japan [w/video]

Posted Apr 18th 2014 9:32AM

2015 Toyota Passo

With considerable manufacturing capacity here in the United States and even a NASCAR program, it'd be all too easy to categorize Toyota as an American automaker. Only it's not. It's Japanese, of course. And back in the Japanese Domestic Market, it offers a whole range of models we'll never see in North America. Models like the Crown sedan, Noah minivan and this, the new Passo hatchback.

Sold in various markets as the Daihatsu Boon, Daihatsu Sirion, Perodua Myvi and (for a time) the Subaru Justy, the Toyota Passo is a compact hatchback that slots in size-wise between the Yaris sold in America and the Aygo offered in Europe (except the Passo is taller than either).

Power comes from a 1.0-liter engine with 69 horsepower that can be had in front- or all-wheel drive, or a 1.3 driving 95 horses to the front wheels alone. A continuously variable transmission is on duty regardless of engine choice. Front-drive models get a stop/start system, but even all-wheel-drive versions are eligible for government tax credits. That's because, though the new Passo only appears to be mildly updated, the engines have been thoroughly reworked to deliver 30-percent better fuel economy than the previous model, coming in 20-percent better than the standards being enacted by the Japanese government for next year.

Powertrain configurations aside, Toyota is offering JDM customers a wide array of trim and equipment levels, all of which you can read about in the press release (and scope out in the video) below.
Related Gallery2015 Toyota Passo
2015 Toyota Passo2015 Toyota Passo2015 Toyota Passo2015 Toyota Passo2015 Toyota Passo2015 Toyota Passo2015 Toyota Passo2015 Toyota Passo

News Source: Toyota

Chevy and GMC trucks get CNG option pricing

Posted Apr 18th 2014 8:01AM

2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD CNG at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, front three-quarter view

Chevrolet and GMC have clued us in to pricing of the bi-fuel option for the 2015 Silverado and Sierra 2500HD CNG and 3500HD CNG pickups: it starts at $9,500; we're still missing the rest of the pricing inferred by the word "starts," however. If you remember from the Chicago Auto Show introduction, the 6.0-liter V8 puts out 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque when drinking gas, 301 hp and 333 lb-ft when inhaling CNG.

Chevrolet figures that a bi-fuel Silverado HD is worth $2,000 in savings if driven 19,500 miles on CNG and 7,500 miles on gasoline in the span of a year, a recoup rate easily attainable to high-mileage fleet owners. It can be specced on double- and crew-cab pickups with single rear wheels, not on dualies.

The 2015 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana short-wheelbase passenger and cargo vans also get CNG options, starting at $10,825 for the three-tank system, and $12,090 for the four-tank system that can only be had on the cargo hauler. You'll find a bit more info on all of the permutations in the press release below.

MG Dynamo Concept EV is a 90-year celebration

Posted Apr 17th 2014 6:20PM

The MG Dynamo concept electric car, front three-quarter view.

As part of the celebrations for its 90th anniversary, and as a study of European appetites for small electric vehicles, MG has unveiled the Dynamo (click the photo above to enlarge). We didn't get detailed battery specs, but the little hatch is less than 12 feet long, weighs 2,376 pounds and gets up with 70 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. It has an 80-kilometer range when topped up, but rapid charging can restore 80 percent of its juice in just 30 minutes.

You can get a glimpse of the Dynamo and other current and future MG wares at the London headquarters of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) from April 16-28. The press release below has a little more info on the concept car, MG's banner quarter of UK sales and the MG90 event coming up at the Silverstone circuit in June. Wondering if and when an electric MG might reach production? So are we. MG's certainly not hinting, but at least we know the thought is in their minds...

News Source: MG

Every US Volvo could get plug-in hybrid model

Posted Apr 17th 2014 3:19PM

Volvo XC Coupe Concept PHEV

Whether we're talking XC90, S60 or V60, if Volvo sells it in the US, there is a decent chance that you will some day soon-ish be able to buy it with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. That's the message from Dean Shaw, VP Corporate Communications at Volvo Cars of North America, who spoke with AutoblogGreen during the New York Auto Show this week.

Volvo's recent past has been a bit cluttered with plug-in (and wireless) vehicle test projects and early plug-in hybrids as it has tried to find its electrification legs. We loved the all-electric C30 (but not its price tag), understood why Europeans flocked to the V60 plug-in hybrid and dug the Concept XC Coupe PHEV (above) that was displayed at the Detroit Auto Show in January. With yet another plug-in concept - the S60L PPHEV - being unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show this weekend, we figured it was time to get some electrification clarity. Speaking with Shaw made it clear that this run of vehicles shows that Volvo is just about ready to get serious about PHEV technology.

Let's start with the V60 PHEV, which Shaw called a test bed.

Let's start with the V60 PHEV, which Shaw called a test bed. "It was a product we could sell, but it was also a learning curve for us. [Volvo] was sold back in 2010, but the strategy that was part of the sale was that, in the future, Volvo would have a very clear focus on very high-efficiency, small gasoline and diesel engines. We're talking two liters, four-cylinders, with a range of anything from 140 up to 300-plus horsepower. At the top end, we'd augment it with electrification." That pretty much exactly describes the S60L PPHEV.

But that's all phase one. The real trick is what comes next.
Related GalleryVolvo Concept XC Coupe
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Mazda reveals 25th anniversary edition MX-5 Miata alongside next-gen chassis

Posted Apr 17th 2014 11:40AM

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition

Ford may be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Mustang this week, but it's not the only automaker with a sports car icon to fete at this year's New York Auto Show. Mazda is also celebrating the 25th anniversary of the MX-5 Miata with an array of 15 classic models. It's also showing off the chassis for the next MX-5, and unveiling a special 25th Anniversary Edition.

Next-gen Mazda MX-5 Skyactiv chassisThe special edition is based on the retractable hardtop model with either manual or automatic transmission, Bilstein shocks, a metallic red paint job with contrasting black roof and an off-white leather interior. Naturally, special badging can be found inside and out to set it apart from the record 940,000 other MX-5s sold to date, and just 100 examples will find their way to US buyers.

Along with the two-tone special, Mazda is also showing off the new Skyactiv chassis and engine that'll underpin and power the upcoming next-generation MX-5 (as well as an as-yet-to-be-determined Fiat Group roadster if the two parties can work out their differences). With a lower center of gravity that's also closer to the middle of the car, the new chassis promises even better balance and a good couple hundred pounds of weight savings over the outgoing model. Check it all out in the press releases below.

News Source: Mazda

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

2016 Audi A3 Sportback headed to US under diesel power [w/video]

Posted Apr 17th 2014 10:21AM

2015 Audi A3 TDI Sportback

Ever get the feeling that automakers aren't really listening to what it is that you want in an automobile? Well, Audi is. Following what it calls "an outpouring of enthusiasts' support," the German automaker has announced that it is bringing the new, 2016 A3 Sportback to the US under diesel power, in the summer of 2015.

Unveiled today at the New York Auto Show, the new A3 TDI Sportback joins an expanding range of A3 models available Stateside. Whereas the Sportback hatch was until now only slated to be offered in E-Tron hybrid form, and the TDI only as a sedan, this model combines the bodystyle of the former with the power of the latter. The new TDI slots into the family alongside the gasoline-powered A3 and S3 sedans and A3 Cabriolet as well.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four with 150 horsepower and mated to a six-speed S tronic transmission. Because it's still a year away from launch, Audi tells us it hasn't determined figures for performance, fuel economy or carbon emissions numbers, but when it joins the company's considerable diesel offerings (which already include the A6, A7, A8, Q5 and Q7) as part of the new A3 rollout over the course of the next 18 months, you can bet it'll provide that combination of low-end grunt and long-range capability that diesel enthusiasts crave. In the meantime you can scope out the details and b-roll footage below for a closer look.

News Source: Audi

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Audi A3 named 2014 World Car of the Year

Posted Apr 17th 2014 10:00AM

2015 Audi A3

As usual, the second press day of the New York Auto Show was kicked off by the World Car of the Year Awards. Rather than fluff things up, we'll cut right to the chase: top honors go to the brand-new Audi A3, which bested the Mazda3 and BMW 4 Series for the all-important award.

Of course, the wonderful thing about the World Car awards is that there isn't just one big announcement – other honors are given out for specific categories. Here are the other winners from this year's ceremony: Have a look at our list of finalists to see which cars didn't make the cut, and be sure to let us know if you agree or disagree with the winners, in Comments.
Related Gallery2015 Audi A3: First Drive
2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Toyota Europe boss says 'reasonable number' of fuel cell vehicles on the way

Posted Apr 17th 2014 8:31AM

Didier Leroy, Toyota Motor Europe's President

We know that Toyota is gung-ho about delivering its first hydrogen fuel cell sedan to early-adopter markets like southern California and part of Japan next year. The Japanese automaker's European H2 plans have long been part of the mix, but a new press release shows just how committed Toyota is to hydrogen all around the world.

"The volume will be limited, but they will be visible on the streets" – Didier Leroy

Toyota says hydrogen fuel cells are a "major, but logical next step" after the company's pioneering work on gas-electric hybrids for 15 years. Didier Leroy, president of Toyota Motor Europe (pictured), said in a statement that he knows there will be H2 hurdles, and so Toyota will start with "a reasonable number of cars" in Europe. "The volume will be limited," he said, "but they will be visible on the streets."

Karl Schlicht, Toyota Motor Europe executive vice president, compares Toyota's current hydrogen progress with where the company was with hybrid's in the not-too-distant past. When it comes to infrastructure and cost, he said, "There is of course a long way to go, as with any game-changing technology, but remember the same was said about hybrid only 10 years ago." You can read the full PR below.

We don't remember a lot of people saying the infrastructure for hybrids simply wasn't there in 2004, but maybe we missed that memo.

News Source: Toyota

2015 Ford Focus Electric hides in plain sight

Posted Apr 16th 2014 7:00PM

2015 Ford Focus Electric

The styling changes to the 2015 Ford Focus were shown off at the recent Geneva Motor Show, so what the EV version looks like is not that much of a surprise. Still, the 2015 Focus Electric is making its world debut here at the New York Auto Show, so we wanted to know what changes we are looking at compared to both the internal combustion engine version and the earlier EV models.

The exterior visual distinctions between the ICE and EV are minimal, and basically nonexistent from the A-pillar to the rear. Up front, you can see the charge port, of course, but the front fascia has also undergone a bit of an adjustment. The front doesn't have the ICE version's flattened grille and the EV's Ford logo creates a bump in the hood line where none exists on the ICE. The 2015's grille is also different than the one on the 2014 Focus Electric, being slightly smaller (you can see this better if you compare pictures in our new gallery above to these of the 2011 Focus Electric and these of the gas-powered 2015 Focus).

The updated 2015 interior – which we couldn't access ourselves – has things like a new center stack, improved cupholders and is basically identical between the gas and electric models. With the car off, you can't even tell if you're in an EV or ICE, Seema Bardwaj, the US brand manager for the Focus, told AutoblogGreen. The only things that are different, she said, are extra menu screens to show EV powertrain information to the driver.

There is also a minor powertrain upgrade in the '15 EV compared to the '14 model: a single-digit increase in kW rating for the electric motor. The range (76 miles) and MPGe (105, combined) numbers for the 2015 MY are the same as they were before, Bardwaj said.
Related Gallery2015 Ford Focus EV
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Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

2015 Volkswagen Jetta is new, we promise

Posted Apr 16th 2014 6:40PM

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Look closely, kids – you're staring at the face of a refreshed Volkswagen Jetta. Yeah, it's hard to tell, what with the only noticeable changes consisting of slightly updated headlamps and taillamps, and some other aerodynamic tweaks. But the big news for the 2015 Jetta is what you can't see.

For starters, there's a new version of Volkswagen's ever-excellent 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder diesel engine. With 150 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque on tap, it isn't vastly different in terms of output, but the big gain here is fuel economy. Volkswagen claims that with the six-speed manual transmission, the 2015 Jetta TDI will achieve up to 45 miles per gallon on the highway. And based on our experience with prior Jetta TDI models – our 2011 long-term car comes to mind – we don't think it'll be hard to crest 50 mpg every now and then, while still being pretty great to drive. The rest of the Jetta range will still be powered by 1.8- and 2.0-liter turbocharged engines, and the Hybrid and GLI models carry over with LED lamps.

Other noticeable changes are found in the Jetta's cabin, where there's a wealth of new driver assistance technology. Beyond that, chrome trim is available on mid- and high-range models, and there's a new multifunction color display. Nifty.

It might not look like much, but these updates to the compact Jetta should be enough to keep it fresh until the all-new model arrives in the not-too-distant future. Scroll down for more details in the official press blast.

VW previews retouched Touareg for Beijing

Posted Apr 16th 2014 6:00PM

2015 Volkswagen Touareg

Volkswagen is in New York this week showing off its new Jetta and Golf TDI SportWagen concept. But in less than a week, the German automaker will be off to China for the Beijing Motor Show, where it will showcase the revised Touareg you see here.

A subtle update on the Touareg that's been on the market in its current form for four years now, the facelifted model features reworked styling front and rear, an updated interior and a host of new technologies to keep it current in the highly competitive SUV market. Among those new features are larger bi-xenon headlights, coasting function, Google Maps integration and a post-collision braking system designed to prevent a second crash.

VW will offer the new Touareg with a variety of engines around the world, but in North America it'll carry over the same six-cylinder powertrain options as the outgoing model: a 3.6-liter V6 with 280 horsepower, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 240 hp (though torque isn't listed, we'd expect around 406 pound-feet, same as last year) and a hybrid that marries a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 to an electric motor that combine to deliver 380 hp.

Reduced friction from the tires, wind and eight-speed automatic transmission mean, however, that fuel consumption is improved by six percent. And when you're driving a big SUV, every little bit helps. Scope out the full details in the press release below.
Related Gallery2015 Volkswagen Touareg
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News Source: Volkswagen

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