Official: Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America

Filed under: Budget, Hybrid, Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Hatchback, Honda

2015 Honda Fit RS

2015 Honda Fit HybridHonda has officially launched the Fit sub-compact in its home market, ahead of its eventual arrival in North America. The third-generation Fit is wildly important for Honda, with the company’s president, Takanobu Ito, saying, “This is the most important model.”

The third-generation Fit is a ground-up reworking of the car that we’ve come to know. It will pioneer Honda’s new design language, Exciting H Design (seriously) and will also be the very first Fit to be manufactured in North America. Thanks to a Mexican factory that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014, Honda will be able to produce 200,000 Fits for the North American market in North America, saving the brand a huge amount of cash.

As for that Exciting H Design, it’s meant to be sleeker and more modern, according to Automotive News. It’s not bad looking, but the overall design is far less important than what’s under that hood. The vehicle you see above is a Fit RS, which has quite a resemblance to the rumored Fit Mugen. There’s not a lot of detail on this model, but based on looks alone, we certainly hope it’ll be coming to the North American market – it’d make a great Fit Sport. A hybrid variant will also come to the US market, and that car is returning impressive numbers on the Japanese cycle: 86 miles per gallon so far, thanks to the combination of an 1.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. That’s a 35-percent improvement over the current, JDM Fit Hybrid.

Indeed, if the Fit Hybrid can return anything near those numbers on the US EPA cycle, it should do well. Ito’s demands for improved economy are part of what has him believing that Honda will eventually move 1.5 million Fits by 2016. The Honda boss is also expecting the B-segment car to become the brand’s best seller, overall, surpassing the Civic, CR-V and Accord. Those are some big expectations.

Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 13:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America

Filed under: Budget, Hybrid, Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Hatchback, Honda

2015 Honda Fit RS

2015 Honda Fit HybridHonda has officially launched the Fit sub-compact in its home market, ahead of its eventual arrival in North America. The third-generation Fit is wildly important for Honda, with the company’s president, Takanobu Ito, saying, “This is the most important model.”

The third-generation Fit is a ground-up reworking of the car that we’ve come to know. It will pioneer Honda’s new design language, Exciting H Design (seriously) and will also be the very first Fit to be manufactured in North America. Thanks to a Mexican factory that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014, Honda will be able to produce 200,000 Fits for the North American market in North America, saving the brand a huge amount of cash.

As for that Exciting H Design, it’s meant to be sleeker and more modern, according to Automotive News. It’s not bad looking, but the overall design is far less important than what’s under that hood. The vehicle you see above is a Fit RS, which has quite a resemblance to the rumored Fit Mugen. There’s not a lot of detail on this model, but based on looks alone, we certainly hope it’ll be coming to the North American market – it’d make a great Fit Sport. A hybrid variant will also come to the US market, and that car is returning impressive numbers on the Japanese cycle: 86 miles per gallon so far, thanks to the combination of an 1.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. That’s a 35-percent improvement over the current, JDM Fit Hybrid.

Indeed, if the Fit Hybrid can return anything near those numbers on the US EPA cycle, it should do well. Ito’s demands for improved economy are part of what has him believing that Honda will eventually move 1.5 million Fits by 2016. The Honda boss is also expecting the B-segment car to become the brand’s best seller, overall, surpassing the Civic, CR-V and Accord. Those are some big expectations.

Honda launches new Fit in Japan, has big expectations for North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 13:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Study: The safest driving cities in America listed for 2013

Filed under: Safety

Texting while driving

We all like to claim we know where the worst drivers in the US hog the road, but for the last nine years, Allstate has released a study telling us exactly where we can go to find the best and worst drivers in the country. After compiling crash data in America’s largest cities (with more than 50,000 residents), this finding shows that for the third time in four years, Fort Collins, CO tops the list for safest roadways. Fort Collins drivers go almost 14 years between car accidents – an accident rate that is far better than the national average of about 10 years.

Making huge strides in traffic safety, according to the study, Brownsville, TX and Montgomery, AL each soared 21 spots and are now among the top 10 cities on the list. Phoenix is 71 out of the 194 cities listed, but it has the highest safety for cities with the population of more than one million people with crashes 2 percent more likely than average and about 10 years between crashes for drivers. At the bottom of the list, drivers in Washington, D.C. are more than twice as likely to get into a crash, with that population experiencing a wreck about every five years. Big cities like Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA and Miami, FL were also some of the least-safe cities in which to drive. Scroll down for Allstate’s press release or check out the full report in pdf form.

*Note: cities in Massachusetts were excluded due to a lack of data.You lucked out, Bostonians.

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The safest driving cities in America listed for 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Aug 2013 15:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Volvo dealers pushing for V40 in America [w/poll]

Filed under: Car Buying, Wagon, Volvo

Volvo V40

Not too long ago, Volvo effectively replaced three models with one. Those were the C30, S40 and V50, and their replacement came in the form of the V40. While its predecessors were available (at some point, anyway) in North America, the V40 isn’t. And that’s something that Volvo’s players in the US would like to change.

According to Automotive News, both Volvo Cars of North America and its dealers are pressing the factory to reverse its decision and prepare the V40 for an American assault on the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3. It’s a game they won before with the current V60, which hasn’t been available here, but is set to make the transatlantic voyage come the start of the new year.

This time, though, Volvo Cars of North America may have a bigger fight on its hands, because the V40 wasn’t designed to meet US regulations. Getting it up to spec, then, may be a bigger challenge than it’s worth. But if the American importer and dealer network makes its voice heard, the V40’s replacement could be designed with US regulations in mind.

What do you think? Does the V40 have a place in America? Cast your vote in our poll below.

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Volvo dealers pushing for V40 in America [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 26 Aug 2013 14:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Read This: 72-year-old mailman has America’s longest route

Filed under: Truck, Etc., Government/Legal, Read This

Mailbox

Bloomberg has an interesting read from Oklahoma, following the story of Jim Ed Bull, a postal worker with the longest route in the country – a staggering 187.6 miles. For reference, that’s like driving from the far northern side of Detroit to the far eastern side of Cleveland every day just to deliver the mail. Bull does this five times per week.

And while the story might not be hugely focused on cars, aside from Bull’s Ford Ranger and his ability to drive entirely with the left side of his body while working mailboxes with his right hand, it’s quite an interesting story in and of itself.

Head over to Bloomberg for the full read on what keeps this Sooner going.

72-year-old mailman has America’s longest route originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 24 Aug 2013 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Ecclestone says 2014 Grand Prix of America is dead

Filed under: Motorsports

FILE - In this Monday, June 11, 2012 file photograph, the race car belonging to defending Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel is on display with the Manhattan skyline in the background during a news conference in Weehawken, N.J. Vettel drove a 3.2-mile course to demonstrate the planned route for the 2013 Grand Prix of America race in the F1 series. On Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, it was announced that Formula One's inaugural Grand Prix of America slated to be run in New Jersey has been postponed until 2014. Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone says

The United States of America will not be getting a second Formula One race next year. The troubled Grand Prix of America, which was slated to run on a street circuit on the shores of the Hudson river and in the shadow of the New York City skyline has been shelved, following the failure of the race’s organizers to come up with the requisite $100 million in funds demanded by F1’s tempestuous maestro, Bernie Ecclestone. The problematic Grand Prix was already pushed back once, from the 2013 season to 2014, and Ecclestone has also torn up at least one contract.

At the helm of the US race is Leo Hindrey, a multi-billionaire and a managing partner at InterMedia Partners, and Chris Pook, an ally of Ecclestone’s and the former boss of the CART. The two placed Swiss financier and bank UBS in charge of putting together the $100 million. While UBS has only been on the case since June, according to the CNN report, that’s apparently long enough for Ecclestone, who told the news channel, “It’s not on the cards for next year. They haven’t got any money.”

Ecclestone followed up, saying the GPoA “is like Donington all over again,” referring to the race at the UK’s Donington Park. The UK track was meant to take the British Grand Prix from Silverstone in 2010, but was dropped before a single race could be ran, due to its failure to come up with the $210-million race fee. Despite the lack of funds, the organizers of US race remain confident that they’ll still be on the finalized calendar to be released by the FIA at the end of the year.

Ecclestone’s decision regarding this second US race is a telling one, though, as CNN points out. Running a race with the NYC skyline has been a dream of the F1 boss for year, and while that dream may be in tatters, there’s still a spot on the F1 calendar that will need to be filled. It’s unclear what will happen if the US race organizers can come up with the money before the end of the year. Click over to CNN for the detailed rundown of the Grand Prix of American and its rocky history.

Ecclestone says 2014 Grand Prix of America is dead originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 23 Aug 2013 15:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Ferrari exec to lead Jaguar North America

Filed under: Hirings/Firings/Layoffs, Jaguar, Land Rover

Jaguar has announced that Jeff Curry will be serving as the brand’s new North American vice president, effective August 13. The move is a coup for Jag, which lured Curry away from his previous posting as VP of marketing for Ferrari North America, and is further evidence of just how strong Jaguar’s comeback has gotten.

Curry has spent over 20 years in the auto industry, and has worked with Audi, SiriusXM and Land Rover, where he made his start in the industry. His primary responsibilities with Jaguar will cover marketing communications, customer relationship management, and product planning.

Jaguar Land Rover’s North American president, Andy Goss, heaped praise on the brand’s newest addition saying, “Jeff brings with him extensive automotive and luxury marketing experience, critical expertise in leading-edge technologies and a personal passion for automobiles.”

Scroll down for the official press release from Jaguar.

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Ferrari exec to lead Jaguar North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 06 Aug 2013 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Read This: Lack of 35mm film, replacement parts putting hurt on America’s drive-ins [w/poll]

Filed under: TV/Movies, Read This

Drive-in movie theaters turn 80 years old this summer, and, soon, they might die of old age. There are only 360 drive-in theaters left in the US – down from 4,000 at their peak in 1958 – and the 35-millimeter film projectors that they use to screen movies are quickly losing support from studios, which have switched to digital methods of capturing pictures.

Remember the four-foot poles with speakers built in? You’d pull your car up to it, park, and open your windows to listen to the movie. Well, there’s only one company left that makes parts for those speakers, and they don’t support surround sound. And the cost to upgrade the projectors to digital systems is prohibitively expensive. James Kopp, manager at the Family Drive-In Theatre in Stephens City, Virginia, says he was quoted nearly $140,000 to make the switch to digital, The Washington Post reports.

Pennsauken, New Jersey, was the first US city to build a drive-in, yet there are no more of them in the state. As gloomy as it looks, there are drive-ins trying to make the switch to digital projection systems, and there are ones that already have. But as drive-ins fall further from our minds, the question is, do people care?

Read The Washington Post article, and tell us what you think in the poll below.

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Lack of 35mm film, replacement parts putting hurt on America’s drive-ins [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 30 Jul 2013 14:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Honda to shift production schedules in North America

Filed under: Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Acura, Honda

2011 honda accord

2011 Honda Accord – Click above for high-res image gallery

Honda is continuing to adjust its production schedules in the wake of the March 11 earthquake in Japan, and the shuffling will reportedly continue at U.S. plants as well.

The plan is to run full production shifts at U.S. facilities on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from May 9 through July 1, with a single eight-hour shift added for Thursdays. With the exception of Honda’s Greensburg, Indiana plant, all U.S. facilities were running two shifts prior to parts shortages. Workers at these facilities reportedly won’t feel the pinch of the abbreviated production schedules either, as they will have the choice of staying home or completing training without a pay penalty.

Honda spokesperson Ed Miller reportedly told Automotive News the reason for the shift is that it’s more efficient to run operations that way. The automaker likely won’t make any decisions about U.S. production beyond July 1 until the situation is more clear.

On Monday, Honda announced it was suspending June and July dealer orders for the CR-Z, Civic Hybrid, Fit, Acura TSX and Acura RL. Those vehicles are built in Japan, where shortages are still severe. At this point, the Japanese automaker is expecting operations to return to normal production before the end of the year.

This is all very bad news for Honda, and it’s bad for consumers as well. It appears that Honda showrooms are likely to be very short on product for an extended period of time.

Honda to shift production schedules in North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 May 2011 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Alfa Romeo 4C to lead new SUV, Giulia sedan on journey to America… when they’re ready [w/video]

Filed under: Coupe, Sedan, SUV, Videos, Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo 4C Concept

Alfa Romeo 4C Concept – Click above to watch the video after the jump

If this story sounds familiar, that’s because we’ve seen it before: Alfa Romeo will arrive in the United States with a sportscar that will spearhead the arrival of a broader range of models. That was the line with the 8C Competizione, but that model has come and gone without its junior stablemates. And when Alfa unveiled the 4C Concept in Geneva a couple of months ago, that was the story once again: not only would it see production, but it would headline the marque’s return to the North American market.

Now we’ve got a few more details, though. Rather than bringing over existing models like the MiTo and Giulietta, Alfa Romeo is hard at work preparing new models specifically for American tastes. One model is expected to be an SUV based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee – leaving us to wonder if this will come instead of, or in addition to Maserati’s rumored version. But beyond that is the new Giulia sedan that will replace the 159.

The project was reportedly well under way until the design landed on Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s desk, prompting him to order a full redesign. Apparently the styling was rather derivative and lackluster. For his part, the company’s experienced styling chief Lorenzo Ramaciotti says he and his team are doing the best they can with what they’re given: the company’s Compact Wide architecture based on the Giulietta’s platform, which Ramaciotti says is like designing a suit for a fat lady instead of a model.

The literal “back to the drawing board” order from Marchionne’s office may lead to further setbacks, so to keep your interest piqued we’ve dug up this rather intriguing video of the 4C Concept heading from the studio to the show floor in high speed. At this point, we thought we’d seen concept cars from just about every angle, but this is something different, so why not click past the jump to watch the brief clip for yourself.

Continue reading Alfa Romeo 4C to lead new SUV, Giulia sedan on journey to America… when they’re ready [w/video]

Alfa Romeo 4C to lead new SUV, Giulia sedan on journey to America… when they’re ready [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 May 2011 14:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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