Nissan JUKE unveiled in New York

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Last night at Rockefeller Center in New York City I was able to attend the unveiling of the Nissan JUKE, a stylish new compact crossover that hits Nissan dealer showrooms in the United States in the fall of 2010 as a 2011 model. The bright red model showcased at the event certainly grabs your attention, and it’s apparent that this model is aimed at the youth market. The styling exudes a fun and carefree feeling while offering many of the practical characteristics of a crossover vehicle.

While this is a compact crossover, you still get one of the best crossover qualities with a roomy interior. Consumers are flocking to crossovers as the general design provides so much more interior room when compared to traditional models. While the back seat isn’t particularly roomy, the driver and the front passenger will have plenty of room to enjoy the ride. This is not your father’s cramped hatchback.

Given the target market, it’s no surprise that Nissan was aggressive with the styling, which was based on the Nissan Qazana Concept. The bold design inside and out draws on a number of active lifestyle influences including motorcycles and rally cars. The center console in particular evokes a gas tank from a motorcycle. The JUKE features a powerful front end treatment with the turn signals integrated into the front fenders. Other exterior details include body-colored outside mirrors and front door handles, “hidden” rear door handles and integrated roof spoiler. The result is a striking look that many customers will love, while others might not be as thrilled. The turn signals in particular set this vehicle apart.

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“JUKE is about to carve out a unique space in the rapidly growing compact crossover/hatchback segment with its combination of striking design, agile handling and driving pleasure and user friendly technology,” said Brian Carolin, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing, NNA. “Add in the convenience, versatility and high seating positioning of a traditional compact SUV and you’ve got a vehicle unlike any other in its class.”

As for performance, the JUKE sports a standard 1.6-liter Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) turbo engine and an advanced torque vectoring all-wheel drive (AWD) system with performance technology usually reserved for premium vehicles.

The Nissan JUKE will be on display at the New York International Auto Show at Jacob Javits Center April 2nd through 11th. I suspect this vehicle will generate a considerable amount of buzz and will be a hit with the target market.

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Disclaimer: Nissan provided my airfare, hotel stay and drinks to come check out the new Juke. Special thanks to Nissan!

2010 Kia Optima biggest star at 2010 New York Auto Show

The 2011 Kia Optima might be the biggest “sales” star of the NY Show. The styling, power and finish are very impressive with this car that shows like a much more expensive vehicle.

From AutoGuide.com:

For 2010 the New York Auto Show has a bit of everything and continues to deliver with a concentrated presence of luxury vehicles. But this year the luxury fits into numerous niche segments. On one end, there’s the world premiere of the 2011 Infiniti QX56 SUV, while on the other there’s the North American debut of the Lexus CT200h hybrid hatchback. Luxury even takes wagon form, with Acura announcing the TSX Sport Wagon and Cadillac unveiling a CTS-V Sport Wagon concept. Heck, Hyundai even unveiled a flagship luxury sedan, called the Equus, that is designed to compete with cars like the Mercedes S-Class. Aston Martin is showed its four-door Rapide and Porsche has on display its Cayenne S Hybrid SUV.

In more traditional luxury, BMW unveiled the all-new 2011 5 Series for the first time in North America, flanked by the facelifted 3 Series, sporty 335is, 2011 X5 and Alpina B7.

Read the full article here.

Hyundai Equus to Rival S-Class, but priced in the Mid $50,000 Range

This is not a misprint. Hyundai to bring luxury vehicle to challenge BMW, Mercedes and Lexus. That’s right, the Hyundai Equus is on it’s way to the U.S. with all of the goodies inside and out to take on the big boys. Will the Equus be a hit in the mid 50k range? We’ll know soon enough.

From AutoGuide.com:

It certainly looks like a flagship luxury sedan, created to rival established German saloons like the 7 Series and S Class, but it costs roughly half the price and… it’s a Hyundai? Yes, debuting at the New York Auto Show, Hyundai will now offer its flagship luxury sedan from Korea in the U.S. aiming to, “compete with the best luxury sedans in the world on all levels.”

Pricing for the Equus has yet to be locked-down, but Hyundai says it expects to be able to sell the car in the mid $50,000 range. And while the Equus isn’t likely to win over many buyers from Mercedes, the package is an attractive one for Lexus LS shoppers, with the LS460 riced in the mid $60,000 range.

The Equus more than just looks like a proper luxury barge, using a powerful V8 engine and riding on a proper rear-drive architecture (an elongated version of that used for the Genesis Sedan). The Equus is actually 7.2-inches longer than the Genesis at 203.1-inches. That makes it longer than the extended wheelbase Lexus LS, plus it’s wider than either the S-Class or 7 Series.

Read the full article here.

Ford sales up 39%

U.S. auto sales gained more momentum in March with Ford sales up 39%; Chrysler down 8%; GM up 21%. The big winner appears to be Toyota with an increase of almost 41%. Some analysts expected sales to come in even stronger with the heavy incentive wars kicking in last month but hey, it beats 2009 by miles….

From the Detroit News.com:

Toyota posted a nearly 41 percent increase in sales last month after boosting incentives amid recall problems plaguing the world’s largest automaker.

Ford Motor Co. sales rose 39.8 percent last month while Chrysler Group LLC posted an 8 percent decline.

Meanwhile, General Motors Co. said today its vehicle sales jumped 21 percent sales in the U.S. last month, led by a 76 percent increase for its Buick brand and popular new launch vehicles.
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Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers sold 178,546 vehicles last month and the Dearborn automaker said its retail market share rose for the 17th time in the last 18 months.

Read the full article here.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

A chuckle about Geely’s Volvo deal

The always entertaining Peter De Lorenzo at the Autoextremist.com gets a chuckle from Geely founder and chairman Li Shufu’s analogy regarding the Volvo deal. Hey Peter, I would be giddy as well if I just purchased a company like Volvo for what Geely just paid. When we get that excited we do tend to get silly…

(Posted 3/28, 5:00PM) Detroit. Part of what makes this business so enjoyable at times is that just when you think you’ve heard absolutely everything there is to hear, and seen everything there is to see, along comes someone like Li Shufu – the founder and chairman of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group – who signed a deal to buy Volvo from Ford for $1.8 billion this past Sunday after two years of on and off negotiations.

With plans to project Geely as the first great Chinese automobile manufacturer, Li went off the deep end with his giddiness and excitement over the deal, equating Volvo to a tiger that needs to be freed of its shackles and constraints.

Read the full article here.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Toyota sales up 30 percent in March

Looks like Toyota will be bouncing back in March with a projected 30 percent increase in sales! Apparently the hefty incentives are blunting any further erosion in sales from the acceleration issues so you have to give Toyota sales/marketing some credit here. More people are now talking about their rebates than the gas pedal debacle and that’s exactly what Mr. Toyoda probably ordered.

From AutoNews.com:

NEW YORK — Perhaps seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, Toyota expects March sales to be up 30 to 35 percent over year-ago figures, outpacing industry gains, its top U.S. executive said today.

Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., said the “biggest surprise has been the RAV4,” which saw sales surge to an expected 22,000 units in March, far above the crossover’s typical sales. Lentz theorized that perhaps RAV4 incentives were a bit high.

While both car and truck sales have risen, “it’s really light trucks that are driving the business,” Lentz told journalists gathered outside the NADA/IHS Global Insight Forum here.

Read the full article here.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon released

The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon will the baddest wagon to ever hit the market. If anyone can find one better send us a note because we would love to see it! Get ready to have some fun with this baby…

From Car & Driver.com:

We’re trying to figure out what to use our last two wishes on, because it feels like a genie just floated by the Car and Driver offices and granted one of our deepest longings. Cadillac has announced that it will be showing off a CTS-V wagon at the New York auto show, and that the car will go into production later in 2010.

The most beautiful thing about the CTS-V wagon? It’s exactly what you’d think it would be. No additional embellishments, no tweaking this or that for some nonsensical reason imagined by the marketing department; it’s just a CTS wagon with all the stuff that makes the CTS-V sedan so sweet. That would be the 556-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8, the choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, adaptive magnetorheological shocks, Brembo brakes, and fat 19-inch wheels shod in Michelin PS2 rubber. It gets the same body mods as the sedan, too, meaning that our wishful rendering was spot-on. It even gets the same three-inch tailpipes poking through the rear bumper, although we’re already excited about the inevitable conversion kits to swap in something like the CTS-V coupe’s sexy, 4.5-inch center-mount drainpipes.

Read the full article here.

Ford releases limited edition Focus RS500

Ford takes the wraps off of the Focus RS500 at it’s official unveiling next month. They only plan on building 500 or so per year so we can only hope they make it to the U.S. at some point in time. This is the kind of press that Ford is getting really good at because it peaks peoples interest. Very cool.

From the Detroit News:

The Ford Focus RS500 will debut at the 2010 Leipzig Motor Show in Germany on April 9, Ford of Europe officials announced this morning.

The limited-edition RS500 will feature a more powerful engine and retuned suspension — and it’ll create a very exclusive club. Ford of Europe plans to build only 500 units for sale in 20 European countries.

The high-performance coupe, based on the same platform as the European Ford Focus, will feature a 345 horsepower, 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine that will create 340 pound-feet of torque.

Read the full article here.

Geely agrees to buy Volvo from Ford for $1.8 billion

Ford sells Volvo for “a bag of chips” to Chinese car maker Geely. Oh my how times have changed. Back in 1999, Ford purchased Volvo cars for over $6 Billion in cash and now they dump the Swedish auto company for $1.8 Billion.

From AutoNews.com:

GOTHENBURG, Sweden (Reuters) — Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, China’s largest private-run automaker, agreed on Sunday to buy Ford Motor’s Volvo car unit for $1.8 billion, the country’s biggest overseas auto purchase.

The takeover underscores China’s arrival as a major force in the global auto industry and ends nearly two years of talks with Geely over Volvo — the last sale from Ford’s former premier group, which also held Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover.

Read the full article here.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG declares checkmate

Luxury, Power and Style the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E63 has it all. When your working to reach the top this is how you reward yourself. Enjoy the ride!

From Autoblog.com:

Look up the word “superlative” in the dictionary and you won’t see a picture of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG next to it. This is for one of two possible reasons. The first being that dictionaries are obsolete the moment the glue on the binding dries – maybe even before. The second possible explanation is that the E63 is just not that good. Here’s a hint: The second explanation is very, very wrong. Find out why after the jump.

Read the full article here.

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