Want to hear what the 707 horsepower Dodge Hellcat engine sounds like? Would you like to have that sound as your ringtone? It is now available for Apple, Android and Blackberry phones at:

 drivesrt.com/hellcatringtone

“Dodge/SRT fans can now make heads turn and people stop in their tracks, every time their phones ring,” said Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis. One can even preview the ringtone at that address.

A survey conducted by Kelley Blue Book found that 50 percent of respondents think GM is a different company today compared to five years ago. Twenty-four percent of new car shoppers believe the old GM still exists. However, car buyers continue to question GM’s product quality – only 39 percent think GM’s current products are more reliable when compared to five years ago.

Panasonic supplies batteries for Tesla, and has now announced it will invest in the automaker’s planned $5 billion battery plant. But it is not saying who much it will be willing to lay out, talking only about a gradual investment in the facility. Tesla reports on earnings late this afternoon.

Range Rover claims one of its Sport SVR models has lapped the famed Nordschleife circuit at the Nurburgring in 8 minutes, 14 seconds making it the fastest production SUV around the famed track.

Nearly one third of British motorists would consider leaving the scene after accidentally damaging another vehicle after causing only minor damage. Four percent said they would leave even if extensive damage was caused.

 

 

 

Auto News for July 30

 

Based on the same platform as our WRC competition car, the Count

 

The Mini Cooper Countryman is the only small car to earn a good rating among a dozen cars subjected to a small overlap front crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said the Chevy Volt earned an acceptable rating while the Nissan Leaf earned a poor rating in the test. It replicates what happens when the front corner for a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. Take into consideration overall crash testing, and the Volt was “the only car in this test group to earn a 2014 Top Safety Pick+ Award,” the insurance industry group said.

 

The Ford C-Max Hybrid, Mini Countryman, Mitsubishi Lancer, and the Scion/Subaru sports cars came in just under the Volt in overall crash tests.

 

Consumers can find details at:

 

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/range-of-ratings-small-car-ratings-run-the-gamut-in-challenging-small-overlap-front-test

 

Hyundai is recalling 883,000 Sonatas built in model years 2011-14 to repair a shift cable that may become disconnected. The shift lever may then not display the correct gear, and Hyundai said it has received 1,171 warranty claims about the problem. Owners of the affected Sonatas will receive more information in the mail.

 

If you take into consideration every vehicle they sell including large trucks, there has been a rearrangement in the list of top selling vehicle manufacturers worldwide. Toyota claims it still holds the top spot, but VW moves from third to second and GM drops to third place, according to the Detroit News. The paper noted that some claim if you remove big truck sales from VW, GM was still number two.

 

Lagging sales in South America and the cost of incentives to move older Jeep and Dodge products here in the U.S. were cited as the reasons for a 55% drop in Fiat’s second quarter profit. The company predicted that it would still post a profit of up to $1.1 billion for the year.

 

What is it like to live with an all-electric car? Perhaps that is something you have pondered, so next month I will have a report on the Ford Focus electric – something that many may get juiced about!

 

Tesla reports on earnings after the market closes tomorrow and many analysts will be going over the figures very closely. Analysts at Morgan Stanley said Tesla is the only auto maker to offer a “meaningful upside.”

 

 

Auto News for July 29

polaris-slingshot-1097354-TwoByOne063014-polaris-slingshot-6

Thanks to a good friend for alerting me to something outrageous from Polaris. It is called the Slingshot, a vehicle that the company insists “is not an automobile” but a “three wheeled motorcycle.” It is powered by a 2.4-liter four from GM that packs 173 horsepower with 166 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm tied to a 5-speed manual transmission and it seats two. I have not seen any acceleration figures, but early operators said “It’s a roadster jet fighter.” The Slingshot carries a base price of $19,999 to $23,999 for the SL model. ABS brakes, electronic stability control and traction control are all standard. You just know that this modern version of the venerable Morgan Three Wheeler simply has to be a blast to drive. Polaris said some states may require a motorcycle permit. Oh, and your butt is just five inches off the ground.

Those much talked about 2015 Ford F-150 aluminum trucks will come with price increases of $360 to $3,615 depending on model. Dealers have started taking orders for the new pickups that will hit the market later this year. Ford’s top of the line “King Ranch” edition will see the biggest price increase.

Higher demand for its cars and motorcycles drove net income up almost 20 percent at Honda in the fiscal first quarter. It forecast a gain of 4.5 percent in net income from auto sales in the current fiscal year and raised its annual profit forecast. Toyota checks in with earnings early next month.

 

 

Auto News for July 28

Chrysler Group LLC Fiat 500L-VansChrysler Group LLC Fiat 500L-Vans

Fiat is showing off what it calls the 500L-Van design concept. It makes one wonder if this could be the modern day VW flower van if Fiat ever decides to add it to the lineup. After all, this rather unique Fiat made its debut at the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California. That thing on the roof is a basket and double decker surfboard carrier.

The first known national ad about a car appeared at the end of July 1898 in the Scientific American magazine. It was an ad for the Winton Motor Carriage and carried a headline that said, “Dispense with a horse.” That little morsel comes from the Census Bureau.

Friday will be a big day for automakers and a happy one. They will release what virtually all forecasters believe will be robust July sales figures. Sales are expected to hit more than 16 million on yearly basis and Kelley Blue Book predicts they could be up 11.6 percent from a year earlier. Among the Detroit three, Chrysler sales may post the biggest gain – about 22 percent higher.

It was a strong first quarter for Nissan with sales up 10 percent worldwide and a net profit that exceeded analyst expectations. Strong demand here in the states for the redesigned Rogue and the Altima helped the old bottom line.

FYI, Kelley Blue also claims that auto companies who advertised during World Cup broadcasts saw a sharp upturn in consumer interest. KBB said Kia, VW, Hyundai and Nissan saw a spike in consumer inquires on its site.

The 2015 Volks GTI was named the winner of the “Cheap Speed Challenge” – a comparison of under $30,000 performance cars. Cars.com said the GTI outperformed most cars in just about every test it conducted and they called it “seriously fun-to-drive.” Most would agree.

 

Saturday Road Test – 2014 Volkswagen CC R Line

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2014 Volkswagen CC R Line

A Great Looker, But Value?

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – This is one fine looking car as evidenced by the accompanying pictures – a sweeping fresh, modern exterior design, but not enough to turn off more conservative buyers.

However, that striking exterior style extracts some penalties. The low roof means those trying to enter or exit, especially those heading rearward, must do a bending exercise reminiscent of the “duck and cover” drill backed by educators (?) in schools years ago to “escape” nuclear destruction.

Two adults of shorter stature can get comfortable in the rear seats, but this is a four seater and not a five as advertised. Drivers will have a feeling of sitting low in relation to surroundings and despite the multiple seat adjustments I was never, in a week’s time, able to find that “just right” operating position.

The R line is essentially the base Sport model with 18 inch wheels and some exterior styling touches. It does include such nice touches as dual-zone automatic climate controls, rear air vents, and heated eight way power front seats with four way lumbar, navi, and iPod interface among other things.

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But to get such things as a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, leather, not vinyl clad seats, rearview camera, an upgraded navi system with a bigger screen one must shell out $37,395 base for the Executive edition plus $865 for shipping.

The test car had a 2.0-liter turbo four good for 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque that was matched to a six speed automated transmission. The four requires premium petrol, not unusual for a turbo. It is rated at 22-31 mpg and I came out at the combined EPA rating of 25. It was a very quiet runner on the interstates.

Handling was fine and the ride was just a touch on the firm side, yet well in line with other German sedans.

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A 0-60 time of seven seconds was more than adequate for this type of car, but one must cope with a slight lag in response when quick acceleration is warranted. Then a bit of a jolt when it all comes together that might cause fidgety passengers to wonder what the driver was up to.

Upscale models are available with a 280 horsepower six that should produce more liner acceleration.

Some door seals in the test car obviously needed alteration. After a torrential downpour, large quantities of water came out of the bottom of all four doors when they were opened once the skies cleared yet the inside remained dry.

Where this car really fell behind the competition was in the all-important bang for the buck. There just was not much here for a bottom line of $35,025 and that matters when Hyundai and Kia are sparking sales with a long list of equipment on their comparable sedans.

Within the VW fold, the Passat remains a better value for the dollar, and upscale CC’s can start to encroach on Audi territory.

 

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Auto News for July 25

P1

 

Even as a drawing it is one wild looking beast. McLaren will use its presence at the Pebble Beach Concours to showcase its track focused P1 GTR in “design concept form.” Only 375 of the high performance cars will be made and production will begin in June of next year. They will be sold only to race teams.

LeadImage-Lagonda_01

Aston Martin has released a drawing of the car that will bring the famed Lagonda nameplate back to the market, in very limited numbers. It is said to draw its design inspiration from the Lagonda of 1976, will be hand built in Great Britain and “offered for sale by invitation only.” Aston said pricing details will remain confidential but “commensurate with the car’s exclusivity, quality and luxurious nature.” A good guess certainly would be somewhere north of $1-million and the car will be sold only in the Middle East.

GM has reported second quarter earnings that were roughly in line with Wall Street expectations and the company took a $400-million dollar charge to pay for a victim’s compensation fund. That is tied to the ignition switch failures. GM also said attorneys general in 45 states are looking into the related recall of 2.6 million vehicles linked to at least 13 deaths. Officials said they believe the number of recalls will return to more normal numbers in the months ahead. The New York Times reported that GM’s bottom line in the second quarter was helped by demand for its redesigned full sized SUV’s such as the Cadillac Escalade.

 

 

 

Auto News for July 24

2015 Ford F-150 Tows Loaded Trailer in Extreme Heat

Ford had a good second quarter with earnings of 40 cents a share, and it topped analyst expectations of 36 cents something will not be overlooked on Wall Street. Pre-tax profit rose $44 million compared with a year ago coming in at $2.6 billion and Ford said it rang up a record quarterly profit here in North America.

Ford’s Vice President of Engineering, Kumar Galhotra, will take over the Lincoln brand on September first. He will replace Jim Farley who will remain as global marketing chief. While Lincoln sales are up in the first half of the year, its total numbers still trail those of rival Cadillac.

GM meanwhile, announced six new recalls and none are related to ignition switch problems. The largest recall involves power height adjustable front seats in Camaros, Equinox, Terrain, Regal, LaCrosse and SRX models. In all the recalls involve 717,949 vehicles. The company said it is bringing “new rigor and discipline” to its decision making. “If we identify an issue – large or small – that might affect the safety of our customers we will act decisively,” said Jeff Boyer, vice president, of Global Vehicle Safety.

  1. D. Power is out with a new study of more than 86,000 owners regarding how the first three months with a new set of wheels worked out. Dodge and Porsche each topped three segments with Audi, Ford, Mercedes, and Nissan capturing two segments. When it came to nameplates, Porsche topped the list, something it has been doing for ten years, followed by Jaguar, Audi, Land Rover and BMW. Hyundai topped non-luxury brands. Mitsubishi came in at the bottom of the list.

The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan will induct four new members today. They are Ferdinand Piech, chairman of the board at Volkswagen Group and grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, Keith Crain, of the communications firm that bears his name, J.D. “Dave” Power III of the firm cited above, and auto designer Alex Tremulis who gave the world the much talked about and very aerodynamic Tucker Torpedo and then developed concept cars for Kaiser-Fraser and Ford. Also to be honored are James Lentz, chief executive officer of Toyota North America, who will be named industry Leader of the Year.

New vehicle sales hit an annualized rate of nearly 17-million at the mid-year mark, according to Cars.com. It said after a slow winter, the pace of new vehicle sales sped up to push mid-year numbers to near record levels.

The Treasury Department will hold an auction of federally seized property in Dayton, New Jersey next week. Among the brands up for bid are BMW, Porsche, Land Rover and Mercedes – and even a gold bar or two.