Sunday, May 31, 2009


The 2008 Ford Fiesta ST ERC (4WD, 560bhp, 800N...Image via Wikipedia

  • Fiesta to make its U.S. motorsport debut by the Olsbergs Motor Sport Evolution race team as it brings two Fiesta Rallycross cars for competition at Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in July.
  • High-profile event for Fiesta helps brand grow awareness among U.S. racing and performance enthusiasts.

The new Ford Fiesta may not be hitting the streets of America officially until next year, but high-performance motorsport examples of the car will make their U.S. racing debut this summer when the Olsberg Motor Sport Evolution team from Sweden, managed by Andreas Eriksson, brings two new Fiesta Rallycross cars to compete in the annual Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado on July 19.

“The new Fiesta is an engaging, fun to drive car that is off to a very successful start in Europe and Asia,” said Jim Farley, Group Vice President, Ford Global Marketing and Communications. “Thanks to Andreas Eriksson, we’re able to introduce the Fiesta to racing fans in the U.S. ahead of its launch in 2010.”

The Pike's Peak International Hill Climb dates back to 1916, and is the second oldest motor sports event in America, taking its name from the famous mountain peak that towers above Colorado Springs in the Rocky Mountains and is often referred to as 'The Race to the Clouds.”

Ford cars have been at Pike’s Peak since the very first race in 1916, when four Ford-powered cars competed. In 1922, Ford scored its first victory when Noel Bullock took his 179ci, OHV, 50 hp Ford Special, nicknamed “Tin Lizzy” by the other competitors, to a surprise victory in the time of 19:50.9.

The two Fiestas will be driven by Eriksson and rally legend Marcus Grönholm in the ‘Unlimited Class’ at Pike’s Peak, in an attempt to be the first team to break the 10-minute mark over the 12.4-mile, 156-turn pavement and gravel course.

Andreas Eriksson, 35, is a four-time Swedish rally champion, with multiple Rallycross victories, and Marcus Grönholm, 41, is one of World Rallying’s greatest drivers, with two world championships and 30 WRC victories on his resume.

“We’re pleased to have a top independent team like Olsbergs MSE coming to the U.S. with their Fiesta Rallycross cars to take on the challenge of Pike’s Peak,” said Brian Wolfe, director, Ford North America Motorsports. “This will be a great chance for enthusiasts here to see in this unique setting what a lot of the rest of the world is already talking about – that the Fiesta is a great road car and a great race car.”

Ford Motor Company's director of Global Motorsport Business Development, Jost Capito, said: "The Pike's Peak event is another step forward for the new Ford Fiesta as a core vehicle in Ford's future global motorsport aspirations. We're looking forward to seeing Andreas and Marcus in action on this unique event."

After finishing second in the Swedish championship last year, Olsberg’s MSE team debuted its new Fiesta Rallycross car for this season's Swedish and European Rallycross championships, and it scored its first victory in just its second European championship event in Portugal this past month.

The Olsbergs MSE Fiesta Rallycross car is based on both the Fiesta hatchback model road cars. The all-wheel-drive Fiestas are powered by a 2.0-liter Duratec Ford engine capable of more than 800 horsepower.

The Fiesta Rallycross car's suspension system is the result of collaboration between Olsbergs Motor Sport Evolution, Öhlins and Ford of Europe's Team RS engineers, who are responsible for Ford’s FIA World Rally Championship program.

“We worked night and day all winter to get the Fiesta ready on time for the European championships, and it was great to see it score a hard-earned victory in Portugal at the start of May,” said Eriksson. “We are excited to be bringing the car to Pike’s Peak and to be able to see what it can do in such a unique competition. It’s a legendary event, and we’ve already been there to take a look at the challenge we will face. I’m convinced we’ll be a top contender to break the 10-minute mark and give the Fiesta a proper racing debut in the U.S.”

Ford Racing North America, although not directly involved in the project, will assist the team with logistical support while it is in America.

New Fiesta in Rallying
The Ford Fiesta will be Ford Motor Company’s main competition vehicle for rallying in the coming years.

Ford has a long and distinguished history in the FIA WRC (World Rally Championship), the toughest competition in motorsport for production-based cars. The series covers 12 three-day rallies across three continents, with competitors driving flat out on roads ranging from smooth asphalt to rutted, boulder-strewn tracks in conditions ranging from -25°C to 40°C.

Ford has competed in the WRC since 1999 with the Focus RS World Rally Car and won back-to-back manufacturers' world titles in 2006 and 2007. The Focus has claimed 37 rally victories in that period, the latest coming just last weekend when BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally team claimed a one-two finish in Rally d'Italia Sardegna in Italy.

The current generation of World Rally Cars will be replaced by a 'Super 2000' formula by the start of the 2011 season. In April, M-Sport, the team that oversees Ford’s efforts in the World Rally Championship, announced it was developing the Ford Fiesta Super 2000 rally car.

In addition, an all-new Ford Fiesta R2 rally car, based on the top-selling Ford Fiesta road car launched last year, was unveiled last week at the Rally d'Italia Sardegna. Designed to replace the successful Fiesta ST rally car, the new vehicle is targeted at competitors in the popular Fiesta SportTrophy series, as well as in regional rally championships.

The Fiesta SportTrophy, launched in 2006, is a one-make championship aimed at career-minded young drivers and pure enthusiasts alike. More than 10 countries host national championships, with a top level international series linked to the World Rally Championship calendar.

The all-new Fiesta R2 conforms to the latest FIA regulations and will satisfy strong customer demand for an exciting yet affordable point of entry into rallying.

The five-speed Fiesta R2 rally car is based on the Ford Fiesta Sport (Zetec S in the UK and Ireland) using the 1.6L Ti-Vct 120PS (1598cc) base engine as in regular production. It is built from a standard conversion kit developed by M-Sport.

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Ford Motor CompanyImage via Wikipedia

  • Current owners of early-launched 2010 vehicles equipped with Ford SYNC now can visit and download and install the latest application – Traffic, Directions and Information (TDI) – at home for no additional cost
  • SYNC TDI connects a customer’s Bluetooth-enabled cell phone to Ford’s Service Delivery Network voice portal delivering turn-by-turn driving directions, real-time traffic, business searches and favorite news, sports and weather – all through simple voice commands
  • Eligible customers can download this latest SYNC application similar to the way they would download a song from an online media store such as Apple’s iTunes
  • TDI will be available on all 2010 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles equipped with SYNC, including the all-new Ford Taurus, which arrives in dealerships this summer
  • SYNC, when available as an option, retains its retail price of $395, and includes a GPS receiver new for the 2010 model year; TDI services come with no monthly subscription fees for the first three years of vehicle ownership
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Matt Kenseth's 2004 NASCAR car being pushed ou...Image via Wikipedia

Greg Biffle had the lead late, but couldn't hold on as Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart passed him in the closing laps of Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway. Biffle finished third, followed by Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth in fourth and Carl Edwards in seventh.

“The Nexcare Ford Fusion car was really, really good and it’s unfortunate. We lost that race because of that caution flag and got stuck in the back. We had to work our way back up and really didn’t know how our car was and adjusted it and adjusted it out and then back again. Once I got out front, I was just way too loose there at the end and couldn’t hold off the 20 or the 48. If I would have been a little bit tighter, I know I would have been able to drive off pretty good, but, it’s unfortunate. We were back in traffic all day and had our car freed up and then we got out front and was just a little bit too loose. It was a good day—a top three. I’ve got to argue with the people that are critics of these cars that they put on good races.”

“We had a great setup from last fall that I think a lot of our cars ran here today. I know some guys had little bit different versions of it, but, overall, this was a good race track for us. I’m glad that we came back. I know we were all worried about coming here and running good.”

“It was a good run for the whole DeWalt team. We were kind of up and down all day. We didn’t have anything that could compete with Jimmie. He had everybody covered, but we had a pretty good car and came home fourth. We couldn’t quite get it right, but it was pretty decent.”

“It seemed all right. We ran a couple of full fuel runs it seemed like, so it didn’t seem like many people had problems. If you ran up high, where it was gray, we chorded a couple of right rears, but that’s kind of normal here, so I thought everything turned out pretty good.”

“Yeah, I don’t know how everybody else did, but we were able to be pretty solid and got a good finish. The last three or four weeks we’ve kind of been on the upswing a little bit. We had a top 10 at Charlotte and were maybe 10th at Darlington, so we’ve been doing a little bit better here. It was good for us to get a good finish.”

“Yeah, we have all the tools there to win, it’s our job to figure out how to put it all together into a winning effort. We were closer today, but we were just a little off. I just couldn’t get it. Jimmie had everybody covered, kind of like the Roush cars did last fall here—they were just quite a bit better. We seemed to miss it just a little bit and this car is very, very sensitive and it’s easy to miss it by a little bit. It gets frustrating because you don’t know how to adjust it. One run you’re pretty good and you barely change it and you’re no good.”

“At times we made good adjustments and at times we didn’t. As a team we’ve got to build on the good ones that we made because at periods during the race I thought we were a top 15 car. We were never great, but our UPS Ford showed some promise. We just couldn’t make the right adjustments to keep it going fast.”

“No, actually we had a really good car. When we got our lucky dog they all checked up getting on pit road and I tore the fender off of it and it pulled the splitter up and from there on out our car just was not very good. I really think we should have finished sixth or seventh, even after getting caught a lap down pitting too early. I thought I had a tire down is why we pitted, so it was just a tough day.”

“I know that Greg and Carl and Matt—I don’t know how good the 6 was—but it looked like everybody else ran really good today. Our cars are good, we just have to put it together.”

“We had a great car. What really probably screwed our day up was getting caught on pit road. We were running second and I was catching the 48 and we went through the green flag pit cycle and I ended up a lap down at the tail-end of the lead lap and the 48 was still the leader with four new tires. So I’m not sure how that all played out, but we spent the rest of the day getting back all the way to the front. We ran in traffic all day and once I got back toward the front, the car started getting loose and then once I got out front with two tires it was just so loose I couldn’t drive it. It was just really tough to drive out front. I saw the guys coming and I was just doing all I could do. I was afraid if Tony got up behind me in the corner that the car would probably spin out, so I figured my only hope was to go to the top, but I was so loose up there that I couldn’t get the gas down, either. I got a pretty good run at the top, but just needed a little adjustment and I think I would have made it more interesting. I think it would have been a three-way battle, possibly, instead of two. But, overall, a great day for us in the points and happy to come home third.”

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the road, so I didn’t see anything. If I would have looked anywhere but forward or out the side window I think I would have wrecked.”

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GM Announces Plans to Build Small Car in U.S.

GM on EImage by Mike Licht, via Flickr

  • GM to utilize and retool idled assembly and stamping facility for future production.
  • Additional production will help the company deliver outstanding new vehicles to the compact and small car markets and meet future fuel efficiency regulations.

DETROIT, Mich. -- General Motors Corporation (NYSE:GM) announced today it plans to build a future small car in the United States utilizing an idled UAW-GM facility. This vehicle adds to GM's growing portfolio of U.S.-built, highly fuel efficient cars including the Chevrolet Cruze and Volt.

"Small cars represent one of the fastest growing segments in both the U.S. and around the world," said Fritz Henderson, General Motors President and CEO. "We believe this car will be a winner with our current and future customers in the U.S."

The re-tooled plant will be capable of building 160,000 cars annually, which can be a combination of both small and compact vehicles. Selection of the site will be determined in the future.

"I would like to personally thank the UAW for agreeing to work with us to ensure our overall manufacturing competitiveness in the United States," said Henderson. "This vehicle segment, while important today and expected to be more so in the future, is extremely challenging. It takes a special effort by everyone to bring a domestically produced small car to market in a cost-competitive and profitable way - but that is what we are going to do together."

GM already has a strong manufacturing presence in the United States. Currently, about 67 percent of GM cars and trucks sold in the U.S. are built in the U.S. With this announcement, GM anticipates that U.S. production levels will increase beyond 70 percent by 2013, augmenting its already automotive industry-leading U.S. manufacturing footprint.

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The Three Cruzes In The Top Ten At The Challenging Valencia Track

For their first qualifying session at a European traditional circuit, the three Cruzes managed to secure a place for themselves in the top ten, a result that pleased the Chevrolet team, as the twisty and fast track of Valencia is not the best-suited to the characteristics of the Cruze.

The two free practice sessions allowed the Chevrolet drivers to work fruitfully on the balance of the car, while Q1 ended with Menu 5th, Larini 7th and Huff 10th. In the ten-minute decisive Q2 session, things changed little, with Menu finishing 6th in the day’s ranking, Huff 8th and Larini 10th, in a sunny and warm afternoon. This puts the three Cruzes in an interesting position to score points tomorrow, especially in race 2.


Alain Menu (6th): “I am pretty happy with my result today, the car felt well and I had almost a completely clean lap in my fastest run, so I don’t think we could have done any better today. Tomorrow, I expect two tough races, as we have some very fast cars behind us”.

Rob Huff (8th): «It is a good result for the team, and I am satisfied with my time. I made a little mistake on my fastest lap, but I don’t think I lost more than one tenth, so it is fair to say that things wouldn’t have been much different”.

Nicola Larini (10th): “Based on what I could do in the previous sessions, I was aiming at 5th or 6th position, but unfortunately the set of new tyres I put on in Q2 did not perform as well, I don’t understand why”.

Mark Busfield: “We are pleased to see the three Cruzes in the top ten at this circuit, and we really took the best we could out of this qualifying session. Knowing that the characteristics of this track suit our competitors well, and that we have the heaviest cars here following our successes in Marrakech and Pau, we couldn’t possibly have done any better. Tomorrow, it will be closely-fought races, we will aim at staying in the points in race 1 and be in a good position for race 2”.


1. G Tarquini SEAT León TDI 1m44s414

2. Y Muller SEAT León TDI + 0s232

3. J Gené SEAT León TDI + 0s414

4. T Monteiro SEAT León TDI + 0s482

5. A Farfus BMW 320si + 0s666

6. A Menu Chevrolet Cruze + 0s900

8. R Huff Chevrolet Cruze + 1s026

10. N Larini Chevrolet Cruze + &s288
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Corvette ZR-1 for Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis

Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis, offspring of one of Germany’s old and wealthy noble families took delivery these days of a new Corvette ZR-1 in Bonstetten, Switzerland. For successful race driver Prince Albert, the ZR-1, latest and most powerful product of the legendary American sports car brand, is a “must have” car. Corvette dealer Kurt Huber, co-owner of the well-established Corvette Sportcar Center, proudly handed over the keys of the 600plus horsepower vehicle to his famous customer. Prince Albert holds the European Lamborghini Cup, is vice champion of the German ADAC GT Masters 2008 and currently races in the FIA GT European Championship on Lamborghini.

ZR1 stands for supercar

There will be whole books written about the ultimate Corvette, but the bottom line is simple: 647 horsepower and 819 Nm propel the ZR1 from 0 – 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds and push it on to a top speed of 330 km/h. But of course, there is much more to the supercar.

The American world-beater blends racing technology and the latest in electronics with new solutions in construction, assembly, and use of carbon-fiber and ceramics. The ZR1 reaches new heights with spectacular design, superlative handling, and astonishing everyday drivability.

The enormous power of the 6.2L V8 LS9 engine is partly attributable to the latest generation supercharger with a four-lobe rotor design and integrated charge-cooling system. The power plant transfers its output by ways of a dry-sump dual-disc clutch to the rear wheels. In between is the six-speed manual transmission, bolted to the differential in perfect racing tradition.

The braking system matches the immense engine power. The carbon-ceramic brake rotors, made of carbon-fiber-reinforced ceramic silicon carbide, provide maximum heat dissipation and fade resistance while saving weight. ZR1 brake rotors (six-piston front and four-piston rear) are painted blue, and together with the 20-spoke alloy wheels, contribute to the unique technical appearance of the car. 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels are shod with high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires (P285/30ZR19 front and P335/25ZR20 rear).

The exterior styling of the ZR1 is a treat for supercar enthusiasts. A see-through polycarbonate window in the carbon-fiber hood is a distinctive feature of this model, the fastest street-going Corvette to date.

This peek at the engine reveals the technological aspirations of the ZR1, also in evidence in the carbon-fiber front fenders with dual vents and the full-width rear spoiler.

The high-quality interior recalls the heritage of the Corvette dual-cockpit design with elements from the C6 and Z06. Standard are all safety and convenience features, including head-up display. Unique to the ZR1 are ZR1 logos on the door sill plates and headrest embroidery, boost gauge for the supercharger, and lightweight seats.
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Cadillac Launches Two New Vehicles This Summer

Cadillac’s model lineup expands with two dramatically-designed new luxury vehicles that also bring new dimensions of versatility and efficiency to the marketplace. Cadillac announced today that the 2010 SRX Crossover, scheduled to begin production this summer, will be priced aggressively starting at $34,155.

Later this summer, the acclaimed CTS family will expand again with the arrival of the CTS Sport Wagon. Together with the all-new SRX, these two dynamic new Cadillac models are in sync with the changing priorities of today’s luxury consumers.

“In a tough market the new SRX and CTS Sport Wagon are the right products at the right time, says Steve Shannon,” executive director of marketing for Cadillac. “They offer new dimensions of versatility and fuel efficiency, along with Cadillac’s signature design and technical features.”

The all-new SRX launches into the strong luxury crossover vehicle segment, a category that now accounts for nearly one-fourth of all luxury vehicles sold in the U.S. market. The SRX features new downsized and fuel efficient engines in a completely redesigned vehicle that delivers a dynamic alternative in terms of visual appeal and driving character.

“We believe the Cadillac SRX offers emotional appeal to a segment previously devoid of much of that,” says Shannon. “At the same time, it also has very practical new features such as advanced All-Wheel-Drive, and an efficient standard 3.0-liter Direct Injection V6 engine. And with an entry price of $34,155 the new SRX presents an attractive offer to consumers, while taking on the traditional segment leader aggressively.”

The new CTS Sport Wagon offers the same design and technical features of Cadillac’s centerpiece model, the CTS sport sedan – but in a wagon body style that effectively doubles the car’s cargo space. The new Sport Wagon includes the same 3.0-liter Direct Injection engine that serves as the standard engine in the new SRX. In the Sport Wagon, highway fuel economy is estimated to reach 28 mpg.

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Monday, May 25, 2009


AJAC award given to the 2005 Ford MustangImage via Wikipedia

If you’re planning a road trip this Memorial Day weekend, the 2009 Ford F-150 and 2010 Ford Mustang convertible are two of the best vehicles to take along for the ride. This is according to the editors of Kelley Blue Book’s, who recognized both vehicles today with a spot on their list of Top 10 Road Trip Cars of 2009.

For vacationers planning to tow a trailer – or anything else that requires a hitch – the Ford F-150 delivers, says Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and

“With a max tow rating exceeding 11,000 pounds and an integrated tow system, this truck meets the needs of even the most hard-core towing fanatics,” he said. “Couple its rugged capabilities with a handsome exterior, refined interior and an available Super Crew Cab offering limo-like legroom, and you’re ready for the long haul.”

And for fun in the sun on spring break, Nerad says nothing beats the Ford Mustang.

“You already know that the Ford Mustang is an automotive icon that says ‘fun.’ Now add to that a convertible top and four college students on spring break, and it spells a rousing good time,” he said. “You can get attention by cruising the beach with music booming from the Ford SYNC®-equipped Shaker audio system, and if that isn’t enough, the sexy styling will definitely have the beach babes swooning.”

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Victory for Latvala as Ford takes one-two finish in Sardinia

Jari-Matti Latvala driving his Ford Focus RS W...Image via Wikipedia

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team claimed a dominant one-two finish on Rally d'Italia Sardegna today with the Focus RS World Rally Car. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila led from start to finish to claim their second career win in the FIA World Rally Championship. The Finns reached the podium in the resort of Porto Cervo with a 29.4sec advantage over team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen after three days of tough competition on the Mediterranean island.

Latvala's victory was his first since his maiden WRC success in Sweden in February 2008 and it was BP Ford Abu Dhabi's first one-two result since Rally Japan in November 2008. Ford, second in the manufacturers' championship, closed the gap on the leader after six of the 12 rounds with a maximum points haul. Hirvonen climbs to second in the drivers' standings with Latvala moving up to sixth.

Competitors tackled 17 speed tests covering 347.12km over narrow, flowing and rough gravel tracks near Olbia during three days of competition. Allied with searing temperatures, which topped 35ºC yesterday afternoon, the conditions placed big demands on cars, crews and Pirelli's Scorpion tyres. However, neither Focus RS WRC missed a beat in the Sardinian hills.

Latvala's win came the hard way. After leading throughout the opening leg, the 24-year-old had the disadvantage of opening the special stages for the final two days, sweeping them clear of gravel to leave a cleaner and faster line for those behind. He started today with a 9.9sec lead and feared he would be unable to hold off his team-mate. However, the still early morning allowed huge clouds of dust to hang in the air, slowing all those behind Latvala and he extended his lead.

"Last season I finished third here and I said to myself that I wanted to come back and win this year," said Latvala. "It wasn't an easy weekend being first through the stages and I'm surprised, but delighted, to win because I thought Mikko would catch me this morning.

"The dust was a surprise and I was lucky with that. This is a very important win for me. I've had many unhappy moments since my first win, but now I'm back on the top step of the podium. I was starting to question my role in the team but I've proved the team's confidence in me was right and I thank Malcolm Wilson (team director) for that. You saw a new evolution of Jari-Matti here," he added.

Hirvonen and Lehtinen both struggled with a fever during the rally and 28-year-old Hirvonen was exhausted at the finish. "I have no energy and I've never felt so tired after a rally," he said. "This result, and the timing of it, is perfect for Ford. I thought I could fight for the win but the dust ended those hopes. Everyone behind Jari-Matti expected to have an advantage because he was sweeping the road but, ironically, he was the one who benefited because of the dust. I went off the road on a fifth gear corner in the first stage this morning because I couldn't see so I stopped taking risks.

"Jari-Matti deserves the win after his problems this season and I'm delighted for him. We had a great pre-rally test and the work we did there paid off on the event itself," he added.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr finished 15th in another Focus RS WRC. After climbing to seventh, despite power steering difficulties, they retired late last night after problems in the final service. They restarted today under SupeRally rules and climbed to 10th until brake problems on the final test cost more than four minutes. "It was a difficult three days. We had a lot of bad luck with brakes and power steering, and then the problems last night in service. It's a shame because we were going well yesterday and I felt we could have easily been in the points," said Al Qassimi.

Malcolm Wilson was full of praise for his drivers. "They coped with whatever was thrown at them. It's a dream to see Jari-Matti win after a difficult year and I'm delighted to see him full of confidence. Mikko did an outstanding job and if the conditions were different this morning, there could have been a different winner. It was a great team effort and my thanks go to everyone involved," he said.

Ford of Europe motorsport director Mark Deans said: "I'm thrilled we're back to the level where we can not only compete with, but beat, our rivals. We have a huge mountain to climb in championship terms but we're back on top and it's a large step in the right direction. We'll go to the next round in Greece, for another hot weather, rough road rally, full of confidence after a weekend in which we were in control from start to finish."
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Round 5 of the World Touring Car Championship will take the WTCC circus to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo on the outskirts of Valencia, the lively and sunny Mediterranean city. The Race of Spain, of course, brings back pleasant memories, as Rob Huff and Alain Menu won a race each there last year.

This time, though, any prediction would be unwise. This will be the first race for the new Cruze on a traditional track in Europe. While the car has performed beyond expectations on street circuits, collecting twice an impressive double victory in the urban tracks of Marrakech and Pau, the Cruze still has to prove its real potential on traditional tracks. The team, though, is confident that the excellent work done so far will give fruits also away from street circuits and is aiming at collecting more points in Spain to further strengthen its position in the Championship. Chevrolet is only 9 points away from second in the Constructors’ standings and Rob Huff is currently lying fourth in the Drivers’ standings, 13 points behind the lead.
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Cadillac EscaladeImage by via Flickr

Consumer Survey Rates Cadillac Top Brand; Escalade Tops Luxury SUVs

Cadillac was selected as the top brand in overall vehicle satisfaction, in a survey of 25,000 new vehicle buyers released today. AutoPacific’s 2009 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, generated from the experiences of actual new car and truck owners, named Cadillac as Top Brand for the second consecutive year.

The Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) objectively measures how satisfied owners are with their new car or light truck, and reflects the opinions of more than 25,000 consumers nationwide. This is the second consecutive year that the AutoPacific survey has awarded Cadillac with the Top Brand distinction.

“Cadillac is extremely proud of this award since it is based on the real experiences of new vehicle buyers across the industry,” said Mark McNabb, vice president Cadillac. “Finishing in first place underscores our commitment to excellence in the luxury vehicle market.”

Cadillac has been in the top five brands in all 13 years the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards have been awarded. In addition, the Cadillac Escalade has been named the winner of the Vehicle Satisfaction Award for the Luxury Sport Utility category.

AutoPacific’s research measures owner satisfaction across specific areas related to a vehicle's operation, comfort, safety and the overall purchase/lease experience. The 2009 ratings reflect input from buyers and lessees of new vehicles acquired September through December 2008.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Ford Motor CompanyImage via Wikipedia

  • Strict Ford Motor Company engine “boot camp” testing regimen ensures quality and durability as the 3.5-liter EcoBoost™ V-6 engine is introduced on the 2010 Lincoln MKS; Ford Flex, Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKT also will have EcoBoost availability this year
  • EcoBoost is one of Ford’s key initiatives to deliver significant fuel economy advancements of up to 20 percent without sacrificing the performance feel customers want
  • The new 3.5-liter engine is the first in a wave of EcoBoost engines coming as part of Ford’s strategy to bring affordable fuel efficiency improvements to millions. By 2013, more than 90 percent of Ford’s North American lineup will be available with EcoBoost technology

The arrival of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine is eagerly anticipated by customers who want power without sacrificing fuel economy. Debuting in the 2010 Lincoln MKS this summer, the twin-turbocharged, direct-injection 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine delivers the horsepower of a normally aspirated V-8 with the fuel efficiency of a normally aspirated V-6.

To ensure the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine delivers quality performance, a team of engineers subjected it to an extensive battery of tests as part of the company’s engine “boot camp.”

“EcoBoost was engineered with a relentless, disciplined focus on quality that required a zero-defect mindset from engineers and our supplier partners,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of Global Product Development. “The finished product will represent the best combination of production-ready engine technologies of today, poised and ready to deliver the performance, fuel efficiency and value that customers expect.”

The extensive testing to prove out the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine was accomplished through three avenues – using computer aided engineering models (CAE), in the lab with dynamometers and on roads in the real world. Between testing on the dyno and in the field, EcoBoost engines have racked up the equivalent of more than 1 million miles of customer driving.

EcoBoost System and Component Testing
The rigid testing includes 20 individual dynamometer-level tests designed to push the engine to its limits. The testing protocol verifies the reliability of the complete engine system under maximum engine speeds and loads, coolant and oil temperature and customer driving patterns.

The Road Cycle Durability test, for example, is designed to replicate real-world customer driving and vehicle maintenance patterns. For this test, engines with EcoBoost technology were subjected to 1,000 cold starts, followed by sustained operation at peak torque and peak power. During the course of the test, engine coolant temperatures ranged from 12 degrees Celsius (about 53 degrees Fahrenheit) to 95 degrees Celsius (203 degrees Fahrenheit).

In total, this single test required 1,000 hours of extreme engine operation, representing more than 60,000 miles of customer driving.

“This was a critical test for us, and the EcoBoost fleet passed with flying colors,” said Brett Hinds, Ford’s Advanced Engine Design and Development manager said. “We’re confident that EcoBoost is ready to provide consistent performance in varied conditions.”

Individual components undergo rigorous proving as well. EcoBoost’s twin turbochargers, for example, are designed to run at a very high temperature – up to 950 degrees Celsius (1,740 degrees Fahrenheit). Ford engineers proved out the turbochargers by running them at 950 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes and then “shocking” the turbos by running them at room temperature for 10 minutes. The tests were repeated at maximum boost continuously for hundreds of hours, under far more severe conditions than customers are expected to dish out.

Designed for a life cycle of 150,000 miles or 10 years, EcoBoost’s turbochargers feature water-cooled bearing jackets. This architecture is designed to prevent oil “coking” that could occur in previous-generation turbochargers. The new design means that EcoBoost drivers don’t need to observe special operating precautions, such as idling the engine before switching it off.

EcoBoost also endured Ford’s standard engine durability test signoff running at maximum revs and turbo boost for the equivalent of 15 straight days or 360 hours.

As the first Ford EcoBoost engine makes its production debut, it has earned its stripes in Ford’s engine boot camp. It uses that same grade of 5W20 engine oil specified by Ford for gasoline engines, and oil changes are scheduled at the same 7,500-mile intervals.

The EcoBoost system is part of Ford’s commitment to deliver the best fuel economy in each new vehicle. The new 3.5-liter engine is the first in a wave of EcoBoost engines coming as part of Ford’s strategy to bring affordable fuel efficiency improvements to millions. By 2013, more than 90 percent of Ford’s North American lineup will be available with EcoBoost technology.

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GM's HCCI Engine Technology Delivers Greater Efficiency Without A Spark

A colored automobile engineImage via Wikipedia

General Motors’ initiatives for developing new, fuel-saving technologies have led its engineers to put the squeeze on gasoline – literally.

GM’s continuing development of homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) is pushing this promising, fuel-saving and emissions-reducing engine technology closer to production reality. An HCCI engine, when combined with other advanced technologies, provides up to 15 percent greater fuel economy than a comparable, non-HCCI engine by radically altering the combustion process.

“HCCI delivers enhanced fuel savings without sacrificing the performance consumers have come to expect,” said Prof. Dr. Uwe Grebe, executive director for GM Powertrain Advanced Engineering. “It is a great example of how GM is developing advanced engine technology for consumers that squeezes more miles per gallon of gas and reduces emissions.”

In general terms, the heat and pressure within an HCCI engine’s cylinders are used to ignite the air/fuel mixture without the aid of a traditional spark-generated flame – roughly analogous to the combustion process of a diesel engine. Heat is a necessary enabler for the HCCI process, so traditional spark ignition is used when the engine is cold to generate heat within the cylinders and instigate “auto-ignition” of the mixture.

More than a laboratory experiment, HCCI has been successfully demonstrated in prototype models in North America and Europe. Last spring, GM took the technology on the road, putting journalists and others in an HCCI-equipped Saturn Aura for real-world drives in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York. The vehicle featured the breakthrough of auto-ignition (HCCI) from idle to 60 mph, which significantly advances the benefits of HCCI and the viability for production.

The increase in the HCCI operating range of the prototype vehicle is the result of a patented mixed-mode calibration that includes pre-reacting fuel and exhaust gas in the cylinder to bolster the pressure and heat needed for auto-ignition.

The advantages and challenges of HCCI

HCCI’s efficiency comes from reduced pumping losses, burning fuel faster at lower temperatures and reducing the heat energy lost during the combustion process. Consequently, less carbon dioxide is released because the engine’s operation in HCCI mode is more efficient.

During HCCI mode, the engine approaches the efficiency of a diesel, but unlike a diesel, it requires only a conventional exhaust system. Diesel engines require more elaborate and more expensive exhaust “aftertreatment” to reduce emissions.

The success of HCCI development, to date, is tempered by challenges that must be overcome before it hits the primetime of production. Control of the combustion process over the wide range of operating conditions experienced in everyday driving is the greatest challenge, because unlike a conventional-ignition engine, HCCI’s combustion is not controlled by precisely timed spark events. Ensuring auto ignition at extreme temperatures and in the thinner air of high altitudes are the tallest hurdles to overcome.

“GM’s global HCCI team is working to refine the technology in the wide range of driving conditions experienced around the globe,” said Dr. Grebe. “By combining HCCI with other advanced gasoline engine and control technologies, we can deliver a good fuel savings value for consumers.”

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“We are pleased President Obama is taking decisive and positive action as we work together toward one national standard for vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions that will benefit the environment and the economy. Today’s announcement signals the achievement of a crucial milestone – an agreement in principle on a national program for increased fuel economy and reduced greenhouse gases.

This national program will allow us to move forward toward final regulations that all stakeholders can support. We salute the cooperative efforts of the Obama Administration, the state of California, environmental groups and others that played a constructive role in this process.

The framework of the national program will give us greater clarity, certainty and flexibility to achieve the nation’s goals. We will continue to work with the federal agencies to finalize the standards that we are committed to meeting.”

General Motors and the College for Creative Studies on the lookout for next generation car designers

Car designers are inspired by everything around them. They often draw their inspiration from fashion, architecture, even furniture design. A trendy purse or shoes, a new office building, or a chair can trigger new ideas for the design of a seat or head or tail lamps.

This spring, nine mentors from General Motors and eight students from the College for Creative Studies (CCS), as part of the annual "You Make a Difference" program are volunteering their time and talent to help 112 students from 11 Detroit Public High Schools embrace their own inspirations to create cars of the future. The program was established to identify diverse talent, give young people exposure to vehicle design, and increase overall awareness of careers in art and design.

"The College is committed to preparing students with an interest in art and design for a future in the dynamic and growing creative professions," said Richard L. Rogers, president of CCS. "Programs like this are at the core of our mission at CCS and will increase the diversity of the College, other design schools and ultimately the design professions themselves while also contributing to the cultural vitality of Detroit and southeast Michigan."

Armed with sketching pads, pencils and real-life experience, the volunteer mentors are assigned to one public school for 12 weeks and work closely with art teachers to facilitate group presentations and provide individual instruction in sketching techniques. The students are asked to design their dream vehicle that would appeal to 17-25 year old, including sports cars, crossovers, vans and some eco-vehicles.

"Recruitment of new and diverse design talent is one of our top priorities. We need designers, sculptors and graphic artists that represent countries and cultures from around the world to bring their creativity and unique life experiences to enrich the design process," said Ed Welburn, Vice President of GM Global Design. "I believe partnerships like this are so important to our youth and to our future business."

Most of these high-school students identified are already interested in some type of graphic art, product or fashion design. Upon completion of this program,

a few will be invited to participate in Advanced Sketching Clinics this summer to further enhance their artistic abilities. Three students will receive continuing education credit for courses at CCS.

"The 'You Make a Difference' collaboration between General Motors,

College for Creative Studies, and the Detroit Public Schools has been a valuable asset to the DPS visual art students and staff," said Benjamin Pruitt, Sr., director, Office of Fine Arts Education for the Detroit Public Schools. "It has opened minds and raised awareness to the numerous career opportunities in automotive design and other related fields. It is certainly our hope that this joint effort will continue in the future."

The student's original work will be on display on May 21, 2009 at the College for Creative Studies during a public open house and reception from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the Wendell W. Anderson Jr. Auditorium in the Walter B. Ford II Building. Students, parents, and teachers will be on hand to discuss their experiences along with GM and CCS mentors. This evening program will serve as recognition for their participation in the "You Make A Difference" program and provides an opportunity to offer congratulations as they move forward with the Advanced Sketching Workshops.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chrysler LLC and Fiat Group Announce Global Strategic Alliance to Form a Vibrant New Company

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Chrysler LLC announced that, as a result of the comprehensive restructuring plan agreed to by many of its stakeholders, it has reached an agreement in principle to establish a global strategic alliance with Fiat SpA to form a vibrant new company. It will allow Chrysler and Fiat to fully optimize their respective manufacturing footprints and the global supplier base, while providing each with access to additional markets. Fiat powertrains and components will also be produced at Chrysler manufacturing sites.

"This partnership transforms Chrysler into a vibrant new company with a wealth of strategic advantages," said Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler. "It enables us to better serve our customers and dealers with a broader and more competitive line-up of environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient high-quality vehicles. Benefits to the new company include access to exciting products that complement our current portfolio, technology cooperation and stronger global distribution."

Chrysler initiated discussions with Fiat more than a year ago to develop plans for a global product alliance. Over the past several months, these discussions have evolved and expanded. Chrysler and many of its stakeholders worked tirelessly to agree upon concessions that will result in a significantly lower cost base and enable fulfillment of a broader strategic alliance.

"We want to personally assure everyone that the new company will produce and support quality vehicles under the Jeep®, Dodge and Chrysler brands as well as parts under the Mopar® brand. Chrysler employees will become employees of the new company. Chrysler dealerships remain open for business serving our customers. All vehicle warranties will be honored without interruption and consumers can continue to purchase our vehicles with complete confidence," explained Nardelli.

Despite substantial progress on many fronts, Chrysler was not able to obtain the necessary concessions from all of its lenders, which would have avoided the need for a bankruptcy proceeding. As a result, under the direction of the U.S. Treasury, Chrysler LLC and 24 of its wholly owned U.S. subsidiaries today filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

"Even though total agreement was not possible, I am truly grateful for all that has been sacrificed, on the part of many of Chrysler's stakeholders to reach an agreement in principle with Fiat," said Nardelli. "My number one priority has been to preserve Chrysler and the thousands of people who depend on its success. While I am excited about the creation of the global alliance, I am personally disappointed that today Chrysler has filed for Chapter 11. This was not my first choice. "

Chrysler also will file a motion under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code requesting the swift approval by the Court of the agreement with Fiat and the sale of Chrysler's principal assets to the new company. The benefit of this type of filing is speed. It should allow a leaner new company to emerge in a matter of 30 to 60 days, well positioned for long-term viability .

Nardelli, who has been leading Chrysler since August 2007, also announced to Chrysler LLC's Board of Management and the U.S. Treasury his plan to leave the company following the emergence of the new company from Chapter 11 and the completion of the alliance with Fiat. He will return to Cerberus Capital Management LP as an advisor. "Now is an appropriate time to let others take the lead in the transformation of Chrysler with Fiat," said Nardelli. "I will work closely with all of our stakeholders to see that this new company swiftly emerges with a successful closing of the alliance."

During the restructuring process, the government will provide sufficient debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing to allow continuation of "business as usual." The company will seamlessly honor warranty claims, pay suppliers and keep our dealer body operating to continue to serve our valued customers.

"To create this vibrant new company, we are using this structured bankruptcy to rapidly implement tough but necessary changes, including: the agreed upon wage and benefit structure for active and retired employees that is competitive with those of transplant manufacturers; a reduction of debt and interest expense; the disposition of idle assets; a rationalized and more efficient dealer network; and sound agreements with our suppliers," said Nardelli.

Chrysler's Mexican, Canadian and other international operations are not part of any bankruptcy filing.

As part of the restructuring and with the backing of the U.S. Treasury, we have reached an agreement in principle with GMAC to become the preferred lender for Chrysler dealer and consumer business. GMAC will be able to offer the best long-term finance options for Chrysler dealers and customers with standard rate installment products.

When the transaction is completed, the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) will own 55 percent of the new company and the U.S. and Canadian governments will own proportionate shares of a 10 percent stake. Fiat will initially hold a 20 percent ownership stake in Chrysler. Fiat will have the right to increase its ownership stake an additional 15 percent in three increments as it meets the following criteria: 5 percent for bringing a 40 mpg vehicle platform to Chrysler to be produced in the U.S.; 5 percent for providing a fuel-efficient engine family to be produced in the U.S. for use in Chrysler vehicles; and 5 percent for providing Chrysler access to its vast global distribution network to facilitate the export of Chrysler vehicles. Fiat cannot become a majority owner until after all U.S. government loans have been completely repaid.

As a part of the restructuring, most manufacturing operations will be temporarily idled effective Monday, May 4, 2009. Normal production schedules will resume when the transaction is completed, which is anticipated within 30 to 60 days.

"We want to recognize the Administration, the U.S. Treasury, President's Auto Task Force, as well as Members of Congress and representatives at the state and community level and Canadian Federal and Ontario Provincial governments for their energy and efforts in helping to move this new company forward," Nardelli said. "It is also important to acknowledge Cerberus and Daimler, which provided the foundation for the alliance as well as Chrysler's many other stakeholders including the UAW and CAW leadership, employees, dealers and suppliers. Without their deep sacrifices, unstinting loyalty and enduring belief in Chrysler, the alliance would not have been possible. We look forward to our new partnership with Fiat. To be sure, there will be many changes as we move forward to implement our plans. But today, from many great parts, we begin to build a vibrant new company with less debt, a stronger balance sheet, richer product portfolio, supported by a well-positioned finance company."

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Ford Motor CompanyImage via Wikipedia

Ford's share of last month's car market increased by 3.9 percentage points, compared with April 2008, providing the blue oval brand with a market-leading 18.4 per cent of registrations according to industry figures.

In an April UK car market where overall industry demand decreased by 24 per cent, the popularity of the Ford model range limited the impact on the company to a 3.6 per cent drop in registrations, year on year.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reported that 28,314 Ford cars and commercial vehicles were registered last month, compared with 32,176 in April 2008.

The total included 8,395 new Ford Fiestas – 37.2 per cent more than were sold in April 2008. More Ford Focus models were also registered compared with 12 months ago, making it April's top seller. The second-placed Ford Fiesta remains the UK's best selling car year to date.

In the UK's April car market, 24,579 buyers chose Fords, making a total of 107,000 Ford registrations in the first four months of the year. This is a 21,342-unit lead over Ford's nearest rival compared to a margin of just 12,507 cars at the same time last year.

The continuing popularity of the new Ford Fiesta, the Focus and Kuga contributed to Ford's growing share of the car retail market, now at 13.3 per cent and 2.8 percentage points up versus April 2008.

These popular cars, along with the company's stylish large car range, are attracting corporate business in increasing numbers. Ford beat the recession last month by returning figures for fleet sales at near 2008 levels. Fleet registrations were 16,457 units last month versus 16,800 in April 2008.

Nigel Sharp, Ford of Britain managing director, said: "Ford's rising share in April has been achieved in the most challenging conditions of weaker industry demand and an unfavourable exchange rate. It is an encouraging platform from which to launch our exciting marketing offers, aimed at helping customers to get maximum benefit from the Government's new vehicle scrappage scheme. Ford has taken the position expected of a market leader by announcing attractive supplementary offers to help motorists afford safer, greener and more efficient new vehicles."

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Monday, May 4, 2009


  • April 17, 2009 marks the 45th anniversary of the iconic Ford Mustang
  • Thousands of Mustang enthusiasts from all over the world are gathering in Birmingham, Ala. to join Ford and the Mustang Club of American for a four-day celebration, including several original owners of the 1964½ Mustang
  • In conjunction with the 45th anniversary celebration, the new “The ’10 Unleashed” campaign will give enthusiasts the chance to unleash their Mustang side behind the wheel of the new 2010 Mustang

DEARBORN, Mich., April 16, 2009 – It was 45 years ago this week that marked the birth of the undisputed king of the American road: the Ford Mustang. And thousands of Mustang fans from all over the world are gathering in Birmingham, Ala. to mark the occasion.

“The Ford Mustang is one of the world’s most beloved automotive and cultural icons,” said Jim Farley, Ford Group Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “Since April 17, 1964, it has been a symbol of American freedom and fun.”

Ford and the Mustang Club of America are commemorating the birth of America’s favorite pony car with a four-day celebration at the Barber Motorsports Park. The event is expected to draw more than 2,500 Mustang enthusiasts and their beloved steeds, as well as hundreds of thousands of spectators. Included among those enthusiasts are nine of the muscle car’s most enduring fans: original owners of the 1964½ Mustang.

“People come up to the car and they don’t believe that I’m the original owner,” said Phil Florio, of Summerfield, Fla., about his Wimbledon White 1964½ Mustang Coupe. “I knew from day one that it was going to be a very special vehicle. A lot of car manufacturers have come out with their own particular type of pony car, but there’s only one ‘first.’”

Laki Malamatenios drove his Poppy Red 1964½ Mustang coupe all the way to Alabama from his home in Grass Valley, Calif. to take part in the 45th anniversary festivities.

“My ‘Poppy’ is something special,” he said. “This car is a chronicle of my life with my family – some happy memories, some sad, but always interesting. Whenever I drive it, my whole life flashes before my eyes.”

A host of exciting events are planned for the 45th anniversary celebration. For example, professional road racers – including four-time Mustang champion and SPEED TV personality Tommy Kendall – will be on site to provide hot laps for lucky attendees around the park in Mustang FR500S race cars. And world champion drifter Vaughn Gittin, Jr., will be on hand all weekend to give demonstrations and rides.

“Whether you’re a casual observer interested in seeing the latest model Mustang or a true fanatic who eats, sleeps and breathes Mustang, this is where you want to be to celebrate the 45th anniversary,” said Steven McCarley, president of the Mustang Club of America.

“The ’10 Unleashed” campaign
In addition to the events in Alabama, Ford is commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Mustang by introducing “The ‘10 Unleashed” campaign, which gives enthusiasts the chance to unleash their Mustang side behind the wheel of the new 2010 Mustang – whether it be drifting in Japan like world champion Vaughn Gittin, Jr. or customizing a new Mustang using Ford Racing Performance Parts.

Through Aug. 15, consumers can submit their own Mustang dream experience in 250 words or less via Ford’s “The ‘Unleashed” site at Written submissions will be judged based on creativity, uniqueness and execution of idea. Winning submissions will be selected every few weeks, and winners will be able to turn their Mustang experience into reality.

“During its 45 years, Mustang has touched people’s lives in so many different ways, and we’ve enjoyed hearing those stories leading up to the introduction of the new 2010 Mustang,” said Allison Revier, Ford Mustang brand manager. “Now, it’s time to look forward and create new stories to fill the next chapter in the history book of America’s favorite muscle car.”

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GM Reports 173,007 Deliveries in April

General Motors CorporationImage via Wikipedia

  • Total sales up 11 percent compared with March as spring selling season begins
  • Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra drive increase in full-size pickup market share compared with March
  • Chevrolet Traverse sales of more than 8,200 drives GM's mid-crossover segment sales up 16 percent
  • "Total Confidence" plan extended into May

DETROIT - General Motors dealers in the United States delivered 173,007 vehicles in April, down 34 percent compared with a year ago. However, when comparing GM's April sales with March, total volume was up 11 percent, or about 16,600 cars, crossovers and trucks, largely driven by a return to more normal volumes of fleet sales compared with a very weak first quarter. GM's car sales compared with March were up nearly 2,900 vehicles (4 percent), truck sales increased more than 9,500 vehicles (16 percent), and crossover sales were up nearly 4,200 vehicles (14 percent).

"From a retail standpoint, GM and the industry continued at about the same selling rate as February and March. We see that stabilization, along with a firming up of our fleet business and improvement in Silverado and Sierra sales, as an encouraging sign," said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North America Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing. "We're pleased to see R.L. Polk information this week indicating that a majority of consumers plan to buy a vehicle in the next two years - that shows pent-up demand is building. With our full line-up of cars, crossovers, trucks and hybrids - and some very competitive incentive offers - we're well-positioned to meet this growing consumer demand in the months ahead. For example, we have more than 15,000 sold orders for the white-hot Chevy Camaro."

GM total truck sales (including crossovers) of 102,032 were down 28 percent and car sales of 71,775 were off 41 percent compared with a year ago.

GM's four core brands performed strongly compared with March. Total Chevrolet sales of more than 115,000 vehicles were up 22 percent; Cadillac sales of more than 8,300 vehicles increased 2 percent; GMC sales of more than 20,400 vehicles were up 7 percent; and Buick sales of nearly 9,000 vehicles were up 21 percent. Specifically, when April sales are compared with March:

  • Driven by double-digit increases in Silverado, Tahoe, Traverse and HHR sales, Chevrolet trucks and crossovers were up 22 percent; Chevrolet cars were powered by Cobalt, Impala and Corvette sales, driving an increase of 21 percent.
  • Cadillac trucks and crossovers were down 11 percent; however, STS and DTS sales hikes pushed Cadillac car volume up 7 percent.
  • GMC trucks and crossovers increased 7 percent with Sierra and Yukon leading the way.
  • The Buick Enclave saw a 17 percent increase in sales; while a double-digit increase in Lucerne sales pushed cars up 25 percent.

"We're hearing very positive feedback from dealers and customers, so we're keeping the rally going by extending the Total Confidence plan for Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, GMC and Saturn customers in May," LaNeve said. "More than 750,000 people visited our Total Confidence website in April, and about 70 percent of those folks came to us from third-party sites."

"We'd also like to see continued actions by the government to stimulate sales, such as the proposed scrappage program. The President's comments yesterday encouraging customers to buy American cars and trucks was also very positive. We have said many times that Americans should consider our products because they are the best. The economic advantages are a plus to that," LaNeve added. "The President restated our shared belief that GM will be a part of a strong and viable auto industry for many years to come, and customers should feel very comfortable buying our vehicles."

A total of 1,534 GM hybrid vehicles were delivered in the month, illustrating the wide range of hybrid product offerings available. GM offers the Chevrolet Malibu, Tahoe and Silverado, GMC Yukon and Sierra, Cadillac Escalade, Saturn Aura and Vue hybrids. So far, in 2009, GM has delivered 5,156 hybrid vehicles.

GM inventories dropped compared with a year ago. At the end of April, about 742,000 vehicles were in stock, down about 82,000 vehicles (or 10 percent) compared with last year. There were about 313,000 cars and 429,000 trucks (including crossovers) in inventory at the end of April. Inventories were reduced about 25,000 vehicles compared with March. Importantly, last week, GM announced that it would lower production by approximately 190,000 vehicles through the early part of the third quarter as it continues to reduce inventories to an expected level of about 525,000 vehicles by the end of July. The schedule for launch vehicles including the all-new Chevrolet Camaro, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SRX and GMC Terrain is being maintained so that customers will continue to see a full selection of new and launch vehicles in dealer showrooms.

Certified Used Vehicles

GM Certified Used Vehicles, Saturn Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, Saab Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, and HUMMER Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, combined sold 34,079 vehicles.

GM Certified Used Vehicles, the industry's top-selling certified brand, posted April sales of 28,722 vehicles, down 26 percent from April 2008. Saturn Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles sold 1,066 vehicles, down 8 percent. Saab Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles sold 493 vehicles, down 34 percent. However, two brands posted gains: Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles sold 3,566 vehicles, up 0.03 percent and HUMMER Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles sold 232 vehicles, up 39 percent.

"GM's manufacturer-certified programs continue to offer a strong value for consumers and we are seeing some optimism in the market," said LaNeve. "In particular, our Cadillac CPO brand has been resonating with consumers and remains on a positive track. Not only do Certified Used Vehicles offer the largest selection in the industry, they also come with strong factory backed warranties, such as the 12-month/12,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. Certified Used Vehicles offer the peace of mind in purchasing a durable and reliable vehicle."

In April, GM North America produced 171,000 vehicles (59,000 cars and 112,000 trucks). This is down 71,000 vehicles or 29 percent compared with April 2008 when the region produced 242,000 vehicles (128,000 cars and 114,000 trucks). (Production totals include joint venture production of 7,000 vehicles in April 2009 and 22,000 vehicles in April 2008.)

The region's 2009 second-quarter production forecast is set at 390,000 vehicles (172,000 cars and 218,000 trucks), which is down about 53 percent compared with a year ago. GM North America built 834,000 vehicles (382,000 cars and 452,000 trucks) in the second-quarter of 2008.

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Ford Motor CompanyImage via Wikipedia

April sales mark the sixth consecutive month of market share growth

April Highlights:

  • Ford Fusion sales rose 24%
  • Ford F-150 realized a 17% increase last month
  • Ford E-Series sales rose 3%
  • Lincoln MKZ sales were up 30%
  • Lincoln MKX sales increased 7%
  • F-Series is the best-selling nameplate in Canada

Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited saw market share increase for the sixth consecutive month in April led by sales of the Ford Fusion, the most fuel-efficient mid-size sedan in Canada, which increased 24.4 per cent over the same period last year.

"With our launch of the 2010 Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid, sales have shown that we are building vehicles that consumers really value," said David Mondragon, president and CEO, Ford of Canada. "Just this week, drivers trained in mileage-maximizing techniques drove the 2010 Fusion Hybrid more than 2,300 kilometres on a single tank of gas."

Also contributing to the growth in market share are sales of the Lincoln MKZ which saw an increase of 30 per cent compared to last April.

April also marked the 45th anniversary of the iconic Ford Mustang. The 2010 Mustang delivers even more power, new technologies; fast, fun, affordable driving and is in dealer showrooms now.

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