February 25, 2009

Swedish customs halts Saab production, citing unpaid taxes

Reuters is reporting that the Swedish customs authority has effectively shut down Saab's Trollhättan factory, citing a "considerable" sum of import duties that have been left unpaid.

February 24, 2009

Saab set to sink as GM steps aside

"Nej tack nu går bort!" (No thanks, now go away!)

Such was the response from the Swedish Industry Ministry, when approached by the General to purchase a majority stake in the ailing automaker.

Now, Saab is mounting its last stand against mounting debts and a critical lack of suitors interested in the struggling automaker.

February 19, 2009

Brabus builds a brazen, ballistic G-Wagen

The Gelandewagen has a long history as a world-conquering off-roader. Now in its 30th year of production, the two ton Benz-built bruiser has conquered the Sahara, straddled the Alps and set dozens of records for going places lesser trucks could not.

But now Brabus has written another record for the G-Wagen: the most powerful production off-roader ever built.

February 17, 2009

GM seeks $16 billion; dire future looms for Saturn, Saab

Today was the due date for GM and Chrysler to turn in their homework -- a plan defining each automaker's long-term viability. And in defining the way forward, General Motors has put the hangman's noose around Saab and Saturn.

And that's just the start.

February 16, 2009

Just how safe is your pickup truck?

Bigger is better, when it comes to crashes. A basic tenet of physics that for years has sold big, burly pickups as the "safer" alternative to mid-size sedans. But, as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety discovered, many of today's full-size pickups flunk the side impact crash test, a feat those wimpy sedans manage with ease.

So just how safe is yours?

February 13, 2009

Geneva Motor Show Preview: 2011 Fisker Karma

Mere weeks after stealing the spotlight at the Detroit Motor Show with the voluptuous Karma S convertible, Henrik Fisker and his eponymous carrosserie have announced pricing and specs for the Fisker Karma hybrid luxury sedan, due to hit the road in early 2011. 

February 12, 2009

2009 Nissan Cube Krom - Pics, Specs & Prices

Hoping to build on the same Gen-Y mojo that has made the Scion xB a sales smash, Nissan has priced the 2009 Cube to move.

February 11, 2009

2010 Genesis Coupe priced below $23K

While the svelte Korean coupe will make its official debut a few days from now at the Chicago Motor Show, Hyundai has released full price details for US-bound models.

The base model is powered by a 210-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder coupes will start at $22,750 for the base model and top out at $24,500 for the well-equipped R-Spec version due later this year.

The V-6 powered coupes belt out 306-horsepower from a naturally-aspirated 3.8-liter motor. $25,750 will get you the base V-6 with six-speed manual. The fully-loaded Track model with a ZF-built six-speed Shiftronic transmission will sell for $31,750. All prices include a $750 destination charge.

February 10, 2009

MINI mulling diesel option for future US models

In the pantheon of automotive journalism, USA Today rarely comes to mind. Yet today, MINI vice president Jim McDowell confirmed to the perennial paper that parent company BMW is actively considering adding a diesel engine for US - bound Coopers and Clubmans.

MINI already offers a diesel option for the Mini Cooper in Europe, but the current diesel engines do not meet EPA emissions. Hence any US-bound diesel MINI will be based on a new generation motor rather than a retrofit of the current European model, said McDowell.

As reported last fall, BMW has begun selling diesel versions of the 3-series sports sedan as well as the X5-series sport utility vehicle. Both vehicles use an ammonia-reduction catalyst to cut down on harmful nitrogen emissions.

Ultimately, it's a question of cost versus buyer-perceived benefit. The gasoline-powered Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S are gas-sippers. The 2009 Mini Cooper delivers 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. "If we add a diesel," McDowell said, "it has to really get high mileage ratings to appeal to buyers."

German automotive supplier Bosch AG has been spotted testing a modified Mini Cooper D in the United States. Leaked reports of its 60-plus miles per gallon fuel economy have whetted appetites, but they may have also lead to unrealistic buyer expectations.

Not all car-makers have found success with diesel models. Mercedes-Benz and VW have successfully sold diesels here for years. But Honda made an abrupt about-face in December when CEO Takeo Fukui announced the company would drop their plans to build a diesel motor for the US market.

The bottom line:
As car sales go, 2008 was one of America's worst years on record. The smart money would lead most to cut their costs and focus on sales. But if BMW plays their cards right, a diesel MINI Cooper would knock the eco-weenie Prius off its smug-shrouded perch.