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Fiat & Chrysler Look For New Partner

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  • On 16, Jan 2012

“Fiat/Chrysler sold about 4.2 million cars in 2010, and company CEO Sergio Marchionne expects to improve that by more than 33 per cent come 2014, predicting sales of 5.7 units that year (analysts, on the other hand, predict average Fiat/Chrysler sales of 4.9 million in 2014). Operating profit for 2011 has been pegged at around $600 million, a rewarding bump from the $200 to $500 million predicted earlier in the year and dwarfed by the predicted $3 billion operating profit for 2012.

For Marchionne, though, those numbers need help from the outside: he says that an automaker needs to sell ten million units per year globally in order to reach “a new level of efficiency” and get development costs where he wants them. To wit, he is considering a partnership with a third car company to make that happen. He has repeatedly stated that he hasn’t spoken with anyone yet, but Italian paper Corriere della Serra has said that Peugeot is ready to talk, while other analysts have mentioned makers in emerging markets as potential partners.

This is hardly the first time Marchionne has mentioned his quest for Volkswagen-like scale – in fact, he’s been quite consistent on his desire to rationalize costs throughout the carmaking process. Based on that, it’s inevitable that he’ll tie up, the only questions now are who and when. He could wait until Fiat digests the remaining 41.5 per cent of Chrysler it doesn’t own and “merges” with The Pentastar, or if the right partner raises a hand, it might be sooner. Whoever it is, if it results in more novelties like the Dodge Dart, we tentatively say we’re all for it.”

Source: Autoblog

Renault Not Coming Back to North America

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  • On 16, Jan 2012

“Fiat may have returned to the North American market, but Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn doesn’t plan on seeing the his French marque stage a comeback to our shores. According to The Detroit News, Renault will instead focus its efforts on introducing the brand to the Chinese market. Ghosn said Renault won’t return to North America within the foreseeable future. That’s no real surprise given how fiercely competitive the fully mature market here is compared to the explosive growth possibilities in China. According to the report, Chinese car buyers took home 17.3 million vehicles last year. That number is up from just 600,000 in in 1999.

Ghosn made the comments at the Automotive News World Congress, which ran along with the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. The executive also made mention of the fact that Nissan has 65 models as of right now, and all of them are either profitable or on their way to becoming so. That wasn’t always the case – In 1999, the company featured 43 models. Only four of those were profitable for the company at the time.”

Source: Autoblog

Nissan Leaf Nismo RC

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  • On 16, Jan 2012

“Nissan is on a roll as of late and there is no reason to think what they have built here is too weird or unusual. The racing world has been rocked by economic hardships and fuel prices making it forced to stay relevant in a new world where wasting excessive fuel is scorned. First we saw diesel-power and then ethanol burners, eventually regenerative braking systems and hybrids started making waves but the Nissan LEAF Nismo RC is a progressive and funky race car concept.

For those of you in the loop, yes you saw this car back at the New York Auto Show in April of last year. However, Canucks haven’t seen it up close until now. Behold the mighty plug-in racer in a very elaborate centre-stage display at the Nissan booth inside the Montreal Auto Show. While it looks fast standing still, we were much happier to see it whipping around LeMans back in June.

By the numbers, the car sounds like a blast to drive. It is 170mm wider and nearly 25mm longer proportions that are exacerbated by its minimal ground clearance of only 60mm. The Nismo RC has a carbon fiber body and is under 1000 kg (2,068 pounds) making it around 40 per cent lighter than your average LEAF. It packs 107 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, and its lithium-ion pack can reach an 80 per cent charge state in just 30 minutes but will only last around 20!”

Source: Autoblog

Playstation Gamer Team

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  • On 16, Jan 2012

“Psychology researchers at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Illinois have discovered a funny thing about podium finishers. Often, the happiest person on stage is the one with the bronze medal around his or her neck. Despite having missed first place by two spots, competitors on the lowest rung of the podium tend to find themselves deep in the throes of counterfactual thinking. They aren’t focused on how close they were to winning an event; instead, the third-place competitors are thinking about just how close they came to missing the podium entirely.

That may help explain why Lucas Ordonez, Jordan Tresson, Bryan Heitkotter and Jann Mardenborough are so thrilled at the moment. The four drivers helped bring RJN Motorsport a third-place finish at the recent 24 Hours of Dubai. That’s no small feat for any professional race team, which makes the win even more unbelievable. The four drivers aren’t pros in the normal sense. Each driver started his career behind a controller as part of the Nissan Playstation GT Academy.

Heikotter and Mardenborough had less than a year to transform themselves from gamers to racers. The two won the most recent GT Academy competitions in the U.S. and Europe, respectively.”

Source: Autoblog

CDN Dakar Team Finishes Strong

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  • On 16, Jan 2012

“The old saying goes: “To finish first, first you have to finish”. While this is true of all motorsports, there are few events that exhibit as high an attrition rate as the Dakar Rally. The 2012 running of the Dakar came to a finish in Lima, Peru yesterday and in the car class, only 78 of 150 starters completed the grueling event.

Among those was ALDO Racing, the Canadian team of David Bensadoun and Patrick Beaul who were competing in their first Dakar. The pair not only finished, but placed a more than respectable 40th place. While news was typically slow coming out of the South American deserts, Bensadoun tweeted whenever possible during the event. Driving an obviously well prepared Desert Warrior, the team overcame a blown turbo, broken power steering and at last count 6 broken wheels. Overall, this result was one for the team and Canadian fans to be proud of.

At the pointy end of the field, there was some hefty competition for the lead between the MINI drivers and Robby Gordon in the Hummer. As always, controversy surrounded the brash American as competitors complained he was cheating and organizers took their side. For a while. At the finish line, it was Stephane Peterhansel who took the top spot followed by MINI team mate Nani Roma and Toyota driver Giniel De Villiers. Gordon fell to fifth spot due to a mechanical issue near the end.”

Source: Autoblog

Getting Insurance for your JDM

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  • On 11, Jan 2012

Obtain Insurance through your current provider.

Although your broker may push back or reply with confusion, very few companies have actually filed rules with the FSCO stating that they wish to not insure RHD vehicles. Most companies still do, but will only underwrite your file if they feel they will lose existing business. Leveraging this to keep all of your insurance in one spot is the easiest task for both the company and the end user, and 9 times out of 10, the company will insure you RHD vehicle. Rates will be very reasonable as they be quoted through the prime market.

Obtain Specialty Insurance.

Are you over the age of 26? Have you been driving for 10 years and will your RHD vehicle be a secondary mode of transportation? As all of the vehicles we sell are classic in nature, a viable option may be a specialty insurance program. Features of a Specialty program include zero kilometer restrictions, low yearly fees (from $350 per year), and full comprehensive and collision coverage on every policy. You will only qualify for this insurance group if you meet certain criteria. If you qualify, this is the cheapest way to insure your RHD vehicle. Contact your Right Drive representative for more information.

Obtain Regular insurance.

Through one of our current providers, we can obtain a quote based on everyday use. Your rate may be slightly elevated compared to a left hand drive vehicle depending on your driving history. Our team works with many different providers that can help. In many cases, especially with diesel or kei class vehicles, fuel savings after the first year supercede elevated premiums.

Obtain Commercial Insurance.

Are you a rural or suburban mail carrier? Or are you considering purchasing a RHD vehicle that will be used in part or whole for your company? The Commercial insurance policy is a must and our team works with the best brokerage to provide this coverage. We can provide extremely competitive rates for any RHD vehicle used for commercial purposes.

Chrysler May Revive the Barracuda

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  • On 09, Jan 2012

“Motor Trend reports that Chrysler may forsake the Dodge Challenger for a resurrected Barracuda. The magazine cites two unnamed sources as saying the nameplate will surface in time to celebrate the vehicle’s 50th anniversary in 2014. If true, the Barracuda will ride on a new smaller and lighter platform that’s more fit to compete with the likes of the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. The vehicle’s bones will likely be shared with Alfa Romeo, which means a turbo four-cylinder may show up behind the Barracuda headlights as well as a fire-breathing V8. MT suggests the design may pull from the original fastback Barracuda, though a notch-back version would allow Chrysler to more effectively compete against the drop-top hardware from Ford and Chevrolet.

We have no doubt Chrysler and Fiat are currently investigating ways to breathe new life into the Challenger. The vehicle has been content to plod along as a distant third to its muscle-car rivals, but pulling the Barracuda name back into play seems unlikely. For starters, the Barracuda sailed under the long-dead Plymouth banner, and both Dodge and Chrysler have a long list of hallowed names from which to choose. Stay tuned.”

Source: Autoblog

Dodge Unveils the Dart

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  • On 09, Jan 2012

“Dodge just pulled the covers off its new compact sedan, the Dart. We’re impressed. With an official base price of $15,995, the Dart (pardon us, please, just this once) seems to be a bulls eye to the heart of the small car segment in North America.

We’re eager to spend a few minutes behind the wheel of this Italian/American conglomeration, since its specifications appear to put it at the forefront of a hotly contested segment. For starters, there’s a very impressive available seven-inch TFT display to replace the standard analog gauges, which is paired with an 8.4-inch touch screen panel at the center of the dash. The digital cluster is customizable by the driver with two different base display options, along with nine more menu functions.

As far as styling goes, nobody is going to confuse the Dart with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta on which it’s based. There’s the expected crosshair front grille, though it’s smaller and better integrated with the overall flowing design ethos. Such impressions are helped by the massaging done to Fiat’s platform; the Dart is stretched in all directions compared to its Alfa-badged sibling.

That enlarged platform means the Dart is rather well-endowed when it comes to interior space with a total of 97.2 cubic feet. Dodge has managed to squeeze in 35.3 inches of rear legroom, which it says is more than the mid-size Hyundai Sonata sedan. Buyers looking to customize their rides will be pleased to see 14 available interior and trim combinations.

Power will come from one of three powerplants, two of which are naturally aspirated – a 2.0-litre Tigershark inline-four producing 160 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, and a 2.4-litre Tigershark four with 184 hp and 171 lb-ft. Naturally, our attention is focused on the 1.4-litre turbocharged MultiAir four with 160 horses and 184 lb-ft, which we suspect will be the most fuel efficient engine of the three. Transmissions at launch will all have six speeds: one manual, one automatic and a dual-clutch gearbox with the turbo mill. A nine-speed automatic is in the works for 2013.”

Source: Autoblog

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